Ahmed al-Shayea was known as the “living suicide bomb” — the young Saudi driver of a fuel tanker bomb in Iraq who survived to renounce violence and warn his countrymen of the dangers of jihad.

In the process he became Saudi Arabia’s poster boy for a high-profile jihadist de-programming initiative whose secondary purpose is to discourage Saudis from joining al-Qaida. With his burned face and mangled hands, al-Shayea was presented as a vivid warning to young Saudis about the perils of jihad and the untrustworthiness of al-Qaida, which he claimed had tricked him into driving the tanker bomb, which killed 12 people in 2004.

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