Several other inmates are hunched in front of computers in the same room, many finding the task more difficult than Khan, although they are considerably younger — most are between 20 and 30. One man pecks away at the keyboard, using only his index finger, for several minutes. “I love you Hassan” is the end result on his computer screen. The men sitting next to him laugh when they read the sentence.
In the next room over, a sergeant is explaining what an electrical circuit is to a group of men. It’s an effort for them to understand him, since their native language is Pashto, while the army uses Urdu…
The result is a three-month deradicalization course that has been up and running for a year. The goal, Waqas says, is to “remove radical thoughts.”
“We conduct very intensive one-on-one interviews, a total of six times over the course of 12 weeks, each time for five to six hours,” explains Army psychologist Farrukh Akhtar, a diminutive, pleasant-seeming man. Akhtar also tries to find out to what degree the prisoners were perpetrators or victims. Akhtar has just come from a meeting with two men arrested because they’d had contact with a wanted terrorist. One of them even attended a Taliban training camp.