Saudi opens luxury rehab resort for Al Qaeda militants

Facility for jihadists features swimming pool, spa treatments and fitness centre
Saudi opens luxury rehab resort for Al Qaeda militants
Local and international media representatives are given a tour of a new centre for the rehabilitation of suspected terrorists and potential al-Qaeda recruits in Riyadh. (AFP/Getty Images)
By Daniel Shane
Sun 21 Apr 2013 11:15 AM

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have opened a luxury resort for jailed Al-Qaeda militants as part of the Gulf kingdom’s plan to turn its citizens away from jihadist activities.

The rehabilitation centre, which features spa treatments, pool tables and a swimming pool, has been opened just outside the capital Riyadh and can accommodate 228 prisoners, AFP reported.

The complex, and others like it, is the work of the Prince Mohammed bin Nayef centre for Counselling and Care, a body setup seven years ago during Saudi’s crackdown on Al-Qaeda militants.

"Just under 3,000 [Islamist prisoners] will have to go through one of these centers before they can be released," interior ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki told AFP during a tour of the facility.

The centre’s rehabilitation programme includes seminars on religious affairs designed to steer detainees away from extremism, and will reward inmates’ good behaviour with visits from their wives.

"In order to fight terrorism, we must give them an intellectual and psychological balance... through dialogue and persuasion," added director of the rehabilitation centre Said al-Bishi.

Another facility has already been opened in the coastal city of Jeddah, with a further three planned in other parts of the world’s biggest oil producer.

Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on domestic militants intensified in the early 2000s following a spate of terrorist attacks in the kingdom, which succeeded in driving much Al-Qaeda activity in the Arabian Peninsula into neighbouring Yemen.

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