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April 22, 2006



ya AA,

did you read stacey's posts (al-hiwar.blogspot.com) on how that yemeni program of reforming imprisoned islamicists by having "good" scholars discuss their "mistakes" with them was canceled after a few of the young takfirists repented, were released, and immediately went to iraq to join "zar'awi & friends"?



Tom Scudder

Raf: I think you're thinking of this.

Al-Ahdal was originally captured in 2003, reportedly on a tip from a former militant who had recently been granted his freedom under a government program, Religious Dialogue Council (RDC), headed by Hamoud al-Hitar. The program, which was initiated at the request of President Saleh in September 2002, is designed to convince suspected militants that carrying out violent actions in the name of Islam is not sanctioned by the Quran or the Sunna. It has since released 364 suspected militants in six separate pardons, following their pledges to abstain from violence. Bin Laden's former bodyguard, al-Bahri, is one such graduate. The RDC, which was initially started as part of a multi-pronged approach to remove Yemen from a "hit list" in Washington, appears to have been caught up in its perceived success through a combination of Western media reports and fewer terrorist attacks in Yemen from late 2002 to early 2005. This early euphoria led to the release of more and more detainees in greater frequency, and eventually to Bajammal's claim that Yemen was 90 percent al-Qaeda free.

Yet by the summer of 2005, as the war in Iraq continued to drag on, the RDC ran into problems. On June 1, 2005, al-Hitar told the Khaleej Times: "Resistance in Iraq is legitimate, but we cannot differentiate between terrorism and resistance in Iraq's situation because things are not clear in this case." Within a few months, however, his views had shifted slightly and he would only say: "Iraq is not a subject of the dialogue" (AP, October 11, 2005). This shift in thinking, or at least public descriptions of the dialogue sessions, seems to have been brought about by an incident in July 2005 when two former detainees, which al-Hitar had recommended for release, carried out a suicide bombing on U.S. forces in Baghdad. Al-Hitar initially denied this claim, which was originally reported by "anonymous Yemeni security sources" in the armed forces weekly paper 26th of September (October 13, 2005). Yet Jamal al-Amir, the editor of the weekly independent newspaper al-Wasat, has argued that the story is true, and that at least eight men from al-Hitar's program have found their way to Iraq to fight U.S. forces there.


here's an excellent public diplomacy blog I found. Some discussion similar to yours.


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