A senior Saudi official said Saturday that 25 former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees have rejoined Islamic extremist groups after going through a rehabilitation program in Saudi Arabia aimed at decreasing religious radicalism within the country. Abdulrahman al-Hadlaq, a top Saudi security expert, spoke generally about the government's effort to rehabilitate Islamic radicals [Al-Jazeera report] and reported that about 300 men have completed the rehabilitation program, with an overall recidivism rate of about 10 percent. Out of the 300 men who have completed the rehabilitation, 120 were formerly held at Guantanamo Bay, making the recidivism rate among former Guantanamo detainees about twice that of those who were not detained by the US. Hadlaq indicated that of the 25 former Guantanamo detainees who returned to extremist activities, 11 were believed to have joined an al-Qaeda group in Yemen, while the rest have been killed or re-arrested. Hadlaq blamed the discrepancy in the rate of recidivism on the close personal ties developed between former detainees at Guantanamo, as well as the harsh tactics used by the US, which he stated led to more extremist views. Overall Hadlaq indicated that the rehabilitation program, which includes religious re-education and financial support, is considered a success [Reuters report]. He also stated that the country plans to build five additional rehabilitation centers which will be able to accommodate the nearly 1,000 suspected al-Qaeda militants who will eventually be released from Saudi prisons. Thirteen Saudi nationals remain at Guantanamo Bay as US President Barak Obama pursues plans to close the detention center, despite missing a self-imposed one-year deadline [JURIST report] in January.
The Obama administration has encountered several hurdles in its attempts to close Guantanamo. Last month, The US House Armed Services Committee [official website] approved a bill [JURIST report] prohibiting the administration from modifying or building a facility in the US to hold detainees currently held at the military prison. In June 2009, the US House denied [JURIST report] an Obama administration request for $60 million to fund the closure of the detention facility, and required the president to submit a detailed plan to Congress documenting the costs and risks of transferring a detainee to the US for trial or detention at least two months before the detainee is to be transferred. A growing list of countries including Bulgaria, Spain, Georgia, Albania, Latvia, Switzerland, Slovakia, Algeria, Somaliland, Palau, Belgium, Afghanistan and Bermuda [JURIST reports] have recently accepted transfers from Guantanamo to aid in closing the facility. There are currently 180 detainees remaining at the Guantanamo facility. Obama originally issued the executive order to close Guantanamo within a year [JURIST report] on January 22, 2009, two days after taking office.