RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A former Guantanamo detainee who went through Saudi Arabia's militant rehabilitation program and then joined al-Qaida in Yemen has turned himself in to authorities, the government said.
Jabir Jubran al-Fayfi contacted Saudi authorities from Yemen to express his regret and readiness to surrender, the Interior Ministry said in statement Friday. Yemeni authorities arranged for his return.
The Saudi rehabilitation center has been a model for similar reform efforts in Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East, using religious arguments and financial and other incentives to draw people away from extremism. Still, 11 of the 270 militants who passed through the Saudi program later rejoined al-Qaida, the center says.
At least two of them went on to become top leaders in the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which formed a year and a half ago with the help of Saudi militants driven across the border as a result of their country's crackdown.
Fayfi said he was at the front lines in Afghanistan, but denies firing a gun. He also said he never met any al-Qaida members or trained at any terrorist camps in Afghanistan.
Available documents do not say where or when he was captured by U.S. forces.
Upon his release from the U.S. military prison in Cuba, he said he wanted to go back home to Saudi Arabia to take care of his parents and resume his job as a taxi driver, the documents stated.
Fayfi was transferred to Saudi Arabia on Dec. 13, 2006. He joined al-Qaida in Yemen sometime after participation in the Saudi rehabilitation program.