It’s a 12-step program for terrorists.
Pakistan has successfully deradicalized thousands of Taliban jihadists using special boot camps — and now wants to try the tactic on the monstrous Islamic State, The Post has learned.
Pakistani military officials say they are confident that they can re-program the twisted minds of the head-chopping ISIS terrorists and turn them into normal, hard-working citizens.
“I believe that if we are able to harness ISIS in our rehab centers, I think it is doable,” said one Pakistani military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Since the program began in 2009, Pakistan has reformed a whopping 2,500 Taliban warriors — most of whom were suicide bombers and mid-level troop commanders, officials said.
“We have a 99 percent success rate. [The Taliban] would have killed themselves and a lot of other people, too. We are saving a lot of lives,” another Pakistani army official, Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, told The Post last week in Washington, DC.
Pakistan is now willing to share its expertise on rehab centers with Iraq and Syria in their fight against ISIS, which has taken over large swaths of land in those countries to create their self-proclaimed “caliphate,” Bajwa said.
“If we receive a request from [Iraq or Syria], I think we can talk to them about it,” Bajwa said, adding that all Middle Eastern countries need to take an “integrated approach” on ISIS and other extremist groups because “we’re all fighting the same menace.”
The Pakistani army came up with the rehab idea after it launched a 2009 offensive in Swat Valley and rounded up a number of Taliban militants, the anonymous source said.
The terrorists were segregated and categorized by their level of indoctrination and their ages, which ranged from 18 to 45, the official said.
“We look at their track record — how long have they been with the Taliban, their level of radicalization,” the official said. “On a scale of 1 to 10, this one may be an 8, and this one a 5, and we separate them accordingly into groups.”
The army converted four large school buildings in Swat and put together a team of doctors, teachers, psychologists and other professionals.
The Taliban then underwent a four-part re-programming process there that took six months to a year.
The “deradicalization program” drills down into the root causes of why they join the ranks of the Taliban, the official said.
“Some people get radicalized out of a sense to serve God,” the official said. “Others, especially young men, see Taliban with long beards and carrying Kalashnikovs [machine guns] walking around’’ and think it’s cool.
The official said that in some Taliban-controlled areas, the terrorists force families to turn over their children for indoctrination.
In the rehab centers, the first part of the rebooting process is a psychological evaluation.
‘INITIALLY, THEY HAVE A VERY DARK MINDSET, AND THEY WON’T USE ANY COLOR OTHER THAN BLACK COLOR TO DRAW A HOUSE WITH NO WINDOWS.
– Gen. Bajwa
“Initially, they have a very dark mindset, and they won’t use any color other than black color to draw a house with no windows,” Bajwa said. “At the end of the process, they want to use any color other than black to draw their house — bright colors with open windows and doors.”
In the second phase, the militants are “de-indoctrinated and then motivated” by religious teachers and friends, Bajwa said.
“They sit down with [the terrorists] and explain to them, ‘Why would they resort to this type of life?’ What it entails in terms of religious values and social and moral values, so all that was discussed,” Bajwa said.
The third and fourth parts involve making the terrorists productive citizens who are valued by their families, according to Bajwa.
They are given an education and taught a craft, such as carpentry or computer programming.
During the process, the other official said, the terrorists are served regular Pakistani meals in a large cafeteria. On the menu is curry, rice, mangos, vegetables and yogurt for dessert.
They also take part in a comprehensive morning and evening physical therapy program, playing volleyball and cricket, Pakistan’s favorite pastime.
“They operate in teams and are socially more active, which is positive reinforcement,” the official said.
The former extremists are then released back into society.
“They never again join the [Pakistan Taliban],” Bajwa insisted. “But we put in place a system of monitoring them with the help of an integrated team, the family and local police.”
A source said there was only one case in which it appeared the reboot might not be working.
“This monitoring time actually caters for that risk and possibility,’’ the source said.