The true picture of Islamic radicalism preached at the British university attended by Christmas Day airline bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab can be revealed today.
By David Barrett, Patrick Sawer and Sean Rayment
Published: 7:30AM GMT 03 Jan 2010
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who studied at University College London Photo: REUTERS
The Sunday Telegraph can disclose new details of radical Muslim speakers who have been invited to events organised by University College London’s Islamic society, the organisation headed by Abdulmutallab when he was an undergraduate at the institution in 2006-07.
Whitehall sources have confirmed MI5 is investigating Abdulmutallab’s possible links with other radical individuals at UCL and with Islamic student societies at other universities.
The Sunday Telegraph has also learned that Muslim students at UCL, at the time of Abdulmutallab’s presidency of the Islamic society, tried to win a change to the student union’s constitution which would have watered down rules on anti-Semitism.
The university’s Jewish society was forced to launch a campaign to stop the motion in February 2007 which, bizarrely, aimed to include Islamophobia in the definition of anti-Semitism.
Harrison Cohen, a member of the Jewish society committee at the time and later president of the same organisation, said: “We feel that anti-Semitism is different in character to other forms of racism. We were concerned by this motion and rallied everyone we knew.
“I cannot remember if Abdulmutallab was on the list of proposers or seconders, but as president of the Islamic society at the time it is likely that he would have been.”
Abdulmutallab, the attempted bomber of Flight 253, was the fourth president of a university Islamic society to face terror charges in the last three years. Others include Yassin Nassari, jailed for three years in 2007, and another man who is awaiting retrial on charges that he was involved in the 2006 airliner bomb plot.
Kafeel Ahmed, who died of horrific burns after driving a Jeep packed with gas canisters into Glasgow airport in 2007, had been president of the Islamic society at Queen’s University, Belfast.
Some of the radical speakers invited to UCL by Abdulmutallab’s organisation spoke on UCL property, raising concerns over whether the university authorities have taken sufficient measures to prevent radicalisation on the campus.
It was already known that Abdulmutallab organised an event in January 2007, which featured a number of controversial speakers but The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered details of a series of speakers to have appeared there, some of whom spoke while Abdulmutallab was still a UCL undergraduate.
At UCL’s Islamic society’s Islamic Awareness Week in February 2008 invited speakers included Abu Mujahid, who has incited Muslims to condemn homosexuals because Allah “hates” them.
Other Muslim radicals who have challenged the theory of evolution were also invited to take part in the event, which took place on UCL property, ironically in the university’s Darwin Lecture Theatre.
Murtaza Khan, who was filmed in a television documentary delivering a diatribe against Jews, Christians and “filthy non-Muslim doctors”, was invited to speak at the another event entitled Pearls of Wisdom in December 2007.
Abu Usamah, an extremist cleric born in the US who converted to Islam, was invited to speak at the same event and an internet video “scrapbook” of the event features a recording of his voice. The event took place on university premises.
The preacher has suggested that homosexuals and opponents of Islam should be killed. A 2007 Channel Four documentary secretly filmed Abu Usamah, of Birmingham’s Green Lane mosque, praising Osama bin Laden and saying: “If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that’s my freedom of speech, isn’t it?”
When Abu Usamah was again invited to appear at UCL last year (2009) concerns led to him being barred by the university authorities.
Several other events planned for last year were only cancelled after pressure from campaign groups such as the Centre for Social Cohesion, including an appearance by Abu Usama Adh Dhahabee, a hard-line preacher who advocates holy war and hatred against non-Muslims.
Abu Dhahabee did, however, speak at an event organised by the Islamic society at another institution, the University of East London, last June.
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) yesterday called for the higher education sector to launch a new crackdown on campus Islamism.
A spokesman for the group said: “Too often university authorities have taken no action, preferring to hide behind the banner of free speech and ignoring the fact that a speaker may be propagating hate or division on their campus.
“Universities must drop the mantra of being only responsible for what happens in the lecture hall. The university experience is far wider and it is time that the entire higher education sector takes responsibility for it.”
She added: “The higher education sector should produce formal guidelines for universities on the issue of inviting dangerous speakers to our campuses.
“UJS also urges other student providers such as the Federation of Student Islamic Societies to take responsibility for, and take action against those societies that they deem themselves representative of, who are consistently inviting radical hate speakers onto campus.”
Houriya Ahmed, of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said of Abdulmutallab’s involvement with UCL Islamic Society: “This is not the first time that a terrorist has been involved with a university Islamic society.
“There is no point denying that radicalisation can breed and take place at universities and it is about time that they take greater responsibility for the preachers of hate that are consistently given a platform in their own backyard.”
Professor Anthony Glees, professor of security and intelligence at the University of Buckinghamshire, has renewed concerns that money from Islamic countries, charities and benefactors is being accepted without proper checks by British universities.
This newspaper revealed previous research by Prof Glees in April 2008 which claimed that extremist ideas were being spread by Islamic study centres linked to British universities and backed by multi-million-pound donations from Saudi Arabia and Muslim organisations.
Updated research by the academic shows there has been £260 million of Arab and Muslim investment in higher education in Britain in the last decade, of which £157 million went into Islamic teaching, including construction of a number of Islamic studies centres.
Prof Glees said: “The dangers are obvious of increasing the number of sites where people can be radicalised. I think there should be regulation of how universities can accept money in this way.”
No-one could be contacted from UCL Islamic Society.
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