FORMER QAEDA JIHADIST AND GUANTANAMO BAY INMATE MOCKS OSAMA BIN LADEN AS A "FLIP FLOP" FOR LEAVING HIS TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
Khalid al Jhani once followed and fought for Osama bin Laden. Now he mocks him. The former Qaeda soldier and Guantanamo Bay inmate is a "graduate" of a reprogramming school for former jihadists in his native Saudi Arabia. Jhani appears in a David Martin story about the Saudi program to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, May 3 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Jhani is one of 117 Saudis detained in Afghanistan and Pakistan after 9/11 who ended up in Guantanamo Bay and who have been since released from the facility. Saudi Arabia - the native country of most of the 9/11 terrorists - says it is attempting to change the mindsets of the less violent jhadists. They seem to have succeeded with Jhani. "I call [bin Laden] a flip flop. He said 'I am not going to let you down'...but I saw that in Tora Bora...he left everybody behind him, you know?" Jhani says, laughing. Click here to watch an excerpt.
He went to Afghanistan in 1996 convinced it was the right thing to do and fought with bin Laden's forces in their last stand against the Americans in the Tora Bora Mountains. "I have been involved with this jihad thing since I was young," says Jhani, who spent four years under American guard at Guantanamo Bay. "I was believing that I had to help the Muslims and this was [the] right way to do [it]," he tells Martin.
Saudi Arabia determined that Jhani was non-violent enough for the "soft approach" rehabilitation. He not only received religious re-indoctrination, but was given therapy, a car, money to get married and the government bought him a house. These materialistic incentives aside, the religious aspect of the reprogramming may be the most important and effective says Chris Boucek of the Carnegie Endowment, who has studied Saudi Arabia's internal security programs. "If you look at how people get into violence it will tell you something about how they get out," he says. "The people who are religiously motivated ...can benefit from religious discussions."
Dr. Abdul Rahman al Hadlaq, a Saudi psychiatrist involved in the rehabilitation program, says "We are getting very good results. I can say this without reservation." But so far, 10 percent of the "graduates" of this soft approach have gone back to terrorism. "It cannot be perfect," says al Hadaq. When pressed by Martin that because some jihadists can become suicide bombers, that even a 90-percent success rate may be not enough, he responds, "Let me assure you, these kinds of people you are talking about are not going to be [let] out from jail."
There are 4,000 real or suspected terrorists in Saudi jails and Boucek says that's down from a high of perhaps 12,000 swept up in a dragnet after 9/11. "There are no first or second tier level operatives in the Kingdom. They've all been killed or captured," according to Boucek. Says al Hadaq, "We have hard approach. We have soft approach."