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Yemen aims to halt next generation of terrorists

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Reaching out to religious leaders

But Shawki al-Qadhi believes such a result is possible. This imam from the mountainous province of Taiz doesn't buy the whole "clash of civilizations" idea. Rather, he believes that rifts between the West and East, between America and the Muslim world, can be mended through dialogue and education.

Thus, seven years ago, Mr. Qadhi founded the Imam Democracy Training Program, an effort to teach ideas like human rights, women's rights, and political participation to Yemen's clergymen.

"These public speakers were in the past speaking against democracy and against elections, against political participation, against human rights, without reason, but due to a dangerous way of thinking," explains al-Qadhi. "So it was necessary that this understanding would be fixed."

Rehab for 'Gitmo returnees?

Yemen's government also has tried its hand at tackling extremism by means of religious discourse. Similar in theory to Qadhi's initiative but entirely different in structure, the initiative aimed to teach a peaceful version of Islam to convicted terrorists within Yemen's prisons.

Saudi Arabia also runs a similar jihadi reformation program. Founded in 2004, it is a more highly funded enterprise.

Yemen's latest effort is a controversial plan to rehabilitate Yemeni detainees from Guantánamo Bay if and when they are repatriated. US authorities are nearing a deal that could see many of the more than 100 Yemenis held at Guantánamo transferred to Saudi Arabia, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing officials in the negotiations.

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