Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2011

Combating Terrorism in Yemen Through the Committee for Religious Dialogue

July 2010

S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies


Yemen’s Committee for Religious Dialogue was established in September 2002. It was an innovative and timely step undertaken by the Yemeni Government towards terrorist rehabilitation. This report seeks to document the lessons learnt from the ICPVTR delegation’s visit to Yemen from 17 to 21 July 2010. The visit sought to get an in-depth understanding of the rehabilitation efforts by the Religious Dialogue Committee that was founded by the Minister of Endowment and Guidance of Yemen, Judge Hamoud Al-Hitar. In addition, the visit also aimed at understanding the role of other Yemeni agencies in their efforts to combating terrorism. The Religious Dialogue as a means of counterterrorism received positive attention from the international community for its pioneering efforts. It was the first country in the region to undertake de-radicalization efforts in its prisons. The programme was grounded in a religious dialogue that aimed to correct the detainees’ distorted beliefs. Despite the dialogue being a government-run de-radicalization initiative, it was largely the work of Judge Hamoud Al-Hitar and his three fellow clerics. The programme however, faced many challenges and was often at the centre of political disputes and struggles. As a result, the programme was discontinued in 2005. The programme had great potential but needed the necessary support from the various agencies in Yemen.