Radicalisation on British Campuses


I have a piece, co-authored with Michael Weiss of Just Journalism, in the online version of The Weekly Standard today covering the ongoing problem of Islamic extremism on British university campuses.


Two recent reports published in London illustrate, on the one hand, the systemic menace posed by campus radicalization and, on the other, just how far universities will go to suicidally downplay or disregard this obvious fact. 

Last Monday, the government-sponsored Quilliam Foundation put out a case study of City University, London’s Islamic Society, which it has found to be a cynosure of Islamic radicalization and one which has already graduated a known terrorist, Ahmed Abdullah Ali, also convicted in that 2006 liquid bomb plot. Apart from posting to its website articles written by Abdullah Azzam, “intellectual godfather” of al Qaeda, and Abu Muhammed al-Maqdisi, mentor to former al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, City’s Islamic Society has also held regular Friday prayer sessions that disdain “man-made law,” applaud the murder of apostates and homosexuals, and endorse marital rape and wife-beating.

Contrast Quilliam’s alarming findings with what University College London has uncovered about itself. Once known as a redoubt of anti-clericalism, UCL has become internationally famous for graduating Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian who tried to murder 278 people on board a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit last Christmas Day. Two weeks ago, the university published the findings of a months-long inquiry, which found “no evidence to suggest either that…Abdulmutallab was radicalised while a student at UCL, or that conditions at UCL during that time or subsequently were conducive to the radicalization of students.” 

The first thing to point out about the conclusion is that, as the report itself acknowledges, Abdulmutallab was the third UCL student to attempt a terrorist attack, which bespeaks pattern not coincidence. Samar Alami, a chemical engineering graduate, put her degree to use by blowing up a car outside the Israeli Embassy in London in 1994. Mohammed Abushamma matriculated in 2008 after he’d already been arrested on terrorism-related charges (UCL staff only realized something was up when he skipped so many classes to attend his court hearings).  

The second thing that warrants mention is that one of the panelists on the UCL inquiry was Dr. Muhammed Abdul Bari, chairman of the East London Mosque, which was frequented by Abdulmutallab himself, not that the conflict of interest is stated in the report’s introduction. The East London Mosque has also twice hosted Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda ideologue who has since admitted that Abdulmutallab was a student of his. Al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was recently designated for assassination by the White House because of his role in both the Detroit attack and in mentoring Nidal Malki Hassan, the Fort Hood murderer. In his first appearance at Dr. Bari’s mosque, in 2003, Awlaki ordered his audience never to cooperate with the police or security services under any circumstances. His second cameo, in 2009, was delivered via a pre-recorded video message, three days after a national newspaper had informed Dr. Bari that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had identified al-Awlaki as an ‘al-Qaeda supporter.’  Bari has dealt with such information by dismissing it and insinuating that an anti-Muslim bias was at the core of any complaint about his mosque’s guest sermonizers.

The full article can be accessed here



Underrated: Abroad

The ravenous longing for the infinite possibilities of “otherwhere”

The king of cakes

"Yuletide revels were designed to see you through the dark days — and how dark they seem today"