nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

Yemen(?) method of converting suicide bombers

I recently read something about a method of converting (pre-)suicide bombers, and dcseain asked me for a source. I can't find it, but I'm hoping that there's enough overlap between what I read and what my readers read that one of you has seen and remembered it.

IIRC, the Yemenite governent would have a moderate Muslim cleric met with five or six guys who'd been told that suicide bombing was the very thing to do to please Allah, and the guys would be told it was their job to convert the cleric. The success rate for the cleric in converting them was extremely high.

Got it. nwhyte pointed me at a BBC article, which was enough to get me to a more thorough account.
Only after winning the militants' trust does Hitar gradually begin to correct their beliefs. He says that most militants are ordinary people who have been led astray. Just as they were taught Al Qaeda's doctrines, he says, so too can they be taught more- moderate ideas. "If you study terrorism in the world, you will see that it has an intellectual theory behind it," says Hitar. "And any kind of intellectual idea can be defeated by intellect."

The program's success surprised even Hitar. For years Yemen was synonymous with violent Islamic extremism. The ancestral homeland of Mr. bin Laden, it provided two-thirds of recruits for his Afghan camps, and was notorious for kidnappings of foreigners and the bombing of the American warship USS Cole in 2000 that killed 17 sailors. Resisting US pressure, Yemen declined to meet violence with violence.

Folks, this is important. I've been mistrusting force and punishment as easy defaults for a long time, and here's some evidence that treating people as though they're conscious actually works. Mind you, it's a good thing that the Koran is a relatively sane document--the project would have been a lot harder if the Koran weren't.
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