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Can Guantánamo’s Terrorists Learn to Change?

Author: Charles E. Berger, National Intelligence Fellow
February 20, 2014
Miami Herald

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It appears about a third of the current Guantánamo detainees will be released in the near future and shipped off to some sort of a rehabilitation center in Yemen. In the State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated his administration's policy to close the detention center, and the Department of Defense has cleared approximately 55 Yemeni detainees for release.

However, Congress placed limits on repatriation, one of which effectively requires Yemen to establish a formal rehabilitation center for returning detainees. Establishing a rehabilitation center in Yemen is sound policy and, if done effectively, will reduce the significant risk of these detainees re-engaging in terrorist activity. In Yemen, plans are in the works for such a center, based largely on a similar center in Saudi Arabia. However, few details have been made public.

There has been considerable debate on the Saudi center's efforts to "deradicalize" former terrorists. Supporters of deradicalization view it as the strategy to counter violent extremism both at home and abroad. Some critics have questioned the effectiveness of deradicalization; others question its morality, likening it to the brainwashing in the literary and cinema classic A Clockwork Orange.

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