Lessons from Israel's Unlikely Spy
The most high profile case is that of Son of Hamas author, Mosab Hassan Yousef. Despite his family, he grew disgusted at Hamas' treatment of its own in the Israeli prison within which he was held. Suspected collaborators were tortured. This led him to eventually cooperate with the Israelis, offering intelligence. He now lives in California, and no-doubt, is full of useful information.
The article leads one to consider possible ways to deal with any Hamas, AQ or Taliban prisoners with the primary aim in mind of turning them. The article suggests one way, utilized by the Saudis:
In fact, al-Qaida recognizes that its members who maintain contact with friends and family outside the organization are more likely to withdraw than those with a more limited social network. The 9/11 plot offers a number of vivid examples of this phenomenon. Two of the potential 9/11 plotters, Saud al-Rashid and Mushabib al-Hamlan, bailed on the plot after returning to their home country of Saudi Arabia following training in Afghanistan. Both had contacted their families, despite clear instructions not to do so, and quickly returned to their previous lives.
The Saudis -- who have established the best-known rehabilitation program for former terrorists -- also understand the role that families can play in ensuring that their wayward relatives stay on the right course. The Saudis use both threats and incentives to persuade the families and tribes to pay close attention to the activities of their supposedly reformed member.
This suggests that we should be recruiting family members to take part in intensive deprogramming regimens, isolating individuals, and making them face up to the barbaric nature of the organizations and leaders that they have aligned themselves with. This should take place over weeks, and during extended and intense sessions. Family members should be involved as much as possible. The sessions should make use of the most graphic video, pictures, and eyewitness accounts if not indeed the very eyewitnesses and victims themselves, all of this with the end in mind of simply overwhelming the individuals with the horrendous moral enormity of the barbarity of the organizations they have freely chosen to join.
Some subjects will of course not flinch, but those that are not completely hardened may very well truly repent and turn. They can then be used as agents, or at the very least, effective counters to the propaganda used to control operatives and populations in places like the Palestinian territories. The stories in this Washington Institute piece give credence to this suggestion. Such practices should become standard with detainees taken in the GWOT.
A goal should be formed to eventually apply this procedure to all detainees. This would not be enhanced interrogation, but perhaps enhanced moral condemnation, an effort to get the detainees to see the moral depravity of not only the organizations, but themselves for having joined and participated. Particular emphasis must be placed upon how the organizations treat not only their own, but innocents, civilians, particularly children. The most graphic source material must be used in order for this to be effective.
This sort of moral disgust has happened spontaneously. In the article, there is a story of a veteran of the fight in Afghanistan during the 80s, a man who had returned to his native land from London, who became disgusted with AQ. The tube way bombing of 2005 turned him. In another case, civil treatment during incarceration was enough to do the trick. Even AQ higher ups have turned:
In fact, a few of the key defectors from al-Qaida's early years in Sudan ended up cooperating with the US government, and testifying against their former comrades in the 2001 "embassy bombing" trial in New York. Al-Qaida's affiliates in Southeast Asia, North Africa and the Persian Gulf have suffered similar blows.
In each case, moral disgust, and no doubt considerable personal guilt caused the turn. A major organized and systematic effort must be made with as many detainees as possible to cause such epiphanies.