I ran across a discussion of this article – “Koranic duels ease terror,” in the Christian Science Monitor – in The Corner at NRO today. The gist of the article is that Yemen’s strategy for dealing with Al Qaeda captives is to send in a scholar of Islam with a challenge to justify their terrorism in terms of the Quran. He offers to join them if they can persuade him of their rightness. So far this strategy has had marked success in turning terrorists away from that strategy. Read the piece to see a fuller description.
At the Corner, John Hood’s comment is (you’ll need to scroll down to his post):
Theological dialogue is no substitute for intelligence, espionage, spreading freedom with missionary zeal, setting a good example at home, punishing killers, and taking vigorous military act when necessary. But it is a good complement.
I don’t know enough about Islam to speak for its ethos, but I think theological argument is a great substitute for the normal ways the world has for dealing with enemies. Safer? I doubt it. More “effective” – if by “effective” we mean that WE win here and now at the least cost? Probably not. But I do think that what the Yemenis are doing is more obviously in accord with the Christian tradition (as constituted by Jesus) than is our normal response.