More recently, the center suffered an even more stinging disappointment involving one of its best-known graduates, a reformed jihadist named Ahmed al-Shayea. He became famous in Saudi Arabia after surviving his own suicide bombing in Iraq in 2004, a bombing arranged by militants with Al Qaeda’s Iraqi branch.
Mr. Shayea was burned and disfigured, but after months in a hospital he emerged and proclaimed himself cured of the jihadist mind-set. He was known as the “living suicide,” and in 2009 an American author, Ken Ballen, devoted an entire chapter to a glowing portrait of him in his book, “Terrorists in Love.”
In November, Mr. Shayea slipped out of Saudi Arabia to Syria, where he is now fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. He proudly trumpets his return to jihad on his Twitter feed, which features a picture of him clutching a rifle with his mangled hands.