RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown met with former Saudi inmates of Guantanamo Bay as he toured a deradicalization facility on Sunday.
Saudi officials claim their efforts at rehabilitating extremists using months of reasoned argument against radical Islam have a success rate of 80 to 90 percent: Only 35 people out of 3,200 in the program have been re-arrested for security offenses.
Brown said after the trip that the center showed the Saudis "are committed to tackling extremists who poison young people with the evil ideology of terror."
"I was glad to have had the opportunity to witness how they are seeking to challenge the attitude of young people who would be vulnerable to being brought under the spell of extreme groups," he added.
An official at the center, Dr. Abdel Rahman Hadlaq, said when the men are released, they are given jobs and other support key to breaking their links with radicals.
"If we don't support them, someone else will support them," he said.
Brown spoke with six men at the facility near the capital and shook hands with two inmates who had each spent six years at Guantanamo Bay for alleged links to al-Qaida.
Preventing young British Muslims, particularly those with family ties to Pakistan, from embracing violent extremism has become a key priority for Britain's security services since four British men killed 52 commuters in suicide bomb attacks on London's transport network in 2005.
Jonathan Evans, head of Britain's domestic spy agency MI5, has said his officers are monitoring about 2,000 potential terrorists in the U.K.
The Saudi inmates are kept in secure compounds with facilities such as gyms and swimming pools while imams give them lessons on moderate Islam.
Juma al-Dossary, 35, who has been at the facility for six months after six years at Guantanamo, said "they have convinced us logically."
Bailout help sought
Also Sunday, Brown said he believed that oil-rich gulf states would be willing to help bail out countries stricken by the global credit crisis.
The British leader has said that he wants "hundreds of billions" of extra dollars pledged to the International Monetary Fund, noting that the Middle East has significant foreign exchange reserves.
"The Saudis will, I think, contribute like other countries so we can have a bigger fund worldwide," he said after a three-hour meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah.