As U.S. Seeks to Close Guantánamo, Saudi Center Could Be Option

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Nobody was home at the dusty brown campus of the reintegration center for recovering Islamic extremists. The swimming pool was still. The lights were on at the gallery of art therapy works, but there were no visitors. Not a slip of paper was out of place at the psychological and social services unit.

The beneficiaries of the Saudi government program, which helps prisoners re-enter society, were on furlough for family visits for Eid al-Adha, the season of the Feast of the Sacrifice, leaving the place eerily empty, like a U.S. college campus on Christmas break.

Only a painting in the gallery offered a glimpse of the religious tolerance that is a hallmark of the program: It was of a woman smelling a flower, her hair uncovered and flowing, against the night sky.

The program, with its campus in Riyadh, and another in Jeddah, grew from a counterterrorism campaign that began in 2004 to re-educate citizens who had made their way home from jihadist training camps in…

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This article was written by Carol Rosenberg and Gabriella Demczuk and originally published on