An article in the New Duranty Times a few days ago — “Yemen’s Deals With Jihadists Unsettle the U.S.” — explains that Yemen has hit upon a way to deal with its own homegrown terrorists. The method is simply to extract from them a promise not to attack Infidels in Yemen itself, or possibly — the story does not make it clear — not to commit acts of terrorism within the territorial waters of Yemen, which would prevent a repetition, presumably, of the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. And of course it should.
Here are excerpts from that article:
That same year, Mr. Saleh hit on an idea that he hoped would satisfy both his American and Islamist partners: “al hiwar al fikri,” or intellectual dialogue. This was an effort to inculcate the idea that Islam, properly understood, does not condone terrorism. Sessions began with hundreds of former jihadists who remained in prison without charges.
“It came from the idea that terror depends on ideology, and that thought should be confronted with thought,” said Hamoud al Hetar, the cleric and judge who led the program.
A cleric would sit for several hours with three to seven prisoners, mostly outside the prison, and discuss Islamic law and ethics, Judge Hetar said during an interview at his home in Sana.
At first, the Saudis and others derided the idea as too soft. At the same time, many Yemeni religious scholars refused to participate out of fear that they would be assassinated by militants, Judge Hetar said. Gradually the program gained acceptance, and Saudi Arabia soon adopted its own version, including therapy and a more comprehensive reintegration program.
Some critics have dismissed the dialogue program, which lapsed in 2005 after terror attacks dropped off, as a sham in which inmates feigned conversion to get out of prison. But Nasser al-Bahri, a former driver for Mr. bin Laden who spent four years with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, said it was more like a raw bargain: exempt Yemen from your jihad and you will be left alone.
“It changed their behavior, not their thoughts,” said Mr. Bahri, a cheerful, talkative 33-year-old who once went by the nom de guerre Abu Jandal. “Judge Hetar cannot cancel jihad. It is in the roots of our religion.”
Sitting on the floor of a bare living room in his Sana apartment, Mr. Bahri said the government helped him buy a taxi and pay for business school after his release in 2003. Although he says he still supports Al Qaeda’s global goals, he also urges other Islamists to avoid any violence in Yemen.
Ali Saleh, another former jihadist who went through Judge Hetar’s program while in prison, now serves as a mediator between the government and Islamists. He helped negotiate the surrender of several of the 23 men who escaped from prison in Sana in early 2006. In exchange, the government agreed to make concessions, including releasing the men after their surrender, he said.
“The government understands, in Yemen you must compromise to reach a solution,” Mr. Saleh said. “The Americans would like to put us all in jail. But if you do this, 10 men will become 20, 20 will become 100, and then “” we will be an army.”
The article — by Robert Worth — does not mention what should be of greatest interest to readers. This method of dealing with terrorists by the not-to-be-trusted government of Yemen is not one whit different from what the Saudi government is doing with its much-heralded (by naÃ¯ve and miscomprehending Westerners) reprogramming of Saudi terrorists. They are told, those Saudi terrorists and supporters of Al Qaeda, that the benign Al-Saud are good Muslims, that they do everything they can for Islam, that they spend hundreds of billions, for example, helping to pay for mosques and madrasas, that they fund campaigns of Da’wa, and that any dealings they have with the Americans or other Westerners are undertaken solely as a temporary measure, intended to strengthen the forces of Islam, and contrary to what Bin Laden charges, they have no intention of “taking Jews and Christians as friends,” no intention of allowing non-Muslims to live permanently in Saudi Arabia, no intention, that is, of ever violating the Qur’an, the Hadith, the Sira.
And with a team of clerics carefully chosen for their bought-and-paid-for loyalty to the Saudi regime, some of those Saudi terrorists are indeed persuaded to stop declaring the Al-Saud “infidels” and to concentrate their anger on the real Infidels, whom they are free to attack, just as long as those attacks take place outside Saudi Arabia.
The story in the Times limits itself to explaining the deep unhappiness among policymakers in Washington with the attitude and behavior of the Yemeni government. The Saudi government is no different. When will the dots be connected?