“I’ve seen it work,” says Major General Stone. But in light of the fact that the jihadists portray themselves among their fellow Muslims as those who are actually acting in accordance with the Qur’an, it would be nice of him to explain exactly how it works. “Detainees chief sees Koran as key ally,” from the Financial Times (thanks to Twostellas):
Major General Douglas Stone has an unusual daily ritual for a US Marine: the commander of detainee operations in Iraq likes to read the Koran every day.
While he himself is of Christian faith, he sees the Muslim holy book as essential to his mission: he wants those in his custody – some of whom are hardcore Islamist militants – to do as he does and read it as much as possible.
The logic is simple, he says. If detainees read the Koran themselves, they will be better equipped to challenge extremists who deliberately misinterpret the religious text to justify jihadist campaigns.
“I intend to do my part to win in the battlefield of the brain,” says Gen Stone. “And I intend to do it by helping [detainees] attack the idea themselves. If they’ve got a basic education, if they’ve got Islamic leadership that they trust and believe in, causing them to question [radical ideology], I have seen it work.”
Gen Stone has also commissioned a study of the motivations of insurgents, in an attempt to improve understanding of how the US can prevent people becoming radicalised. “I have hired an outside company to study the entire insurgency and to try and figure out what is the insurgency motivation, what is their morale, what is their leadership, what’s their recruitment, who are they, why are they here? Are they here because they were unemployed? Are they here because they are committed to a very strong jihadist viewpoint?”
“I personally believe that you need to view the detainees not as a risk because frankly the enemy views them as an opportunity,” he adds. “They’re a chance to understand how they train, what they think, who they are. I’m immensely interested in the whole set of motivations that they have.”
So am I. And so accordingly I wonder just how closely this well-intentioned man has actually read the Qur’an.