Radical Islam And British Universities: Part One
by Adrian Morgan
British Universities have long been centers of radicalism, usually of the brand of amateur socialism espoused by the Socialist Workers Party or its ugly sisters the Worker's Revolutionary Party and Militant. Pretending to understand Dialectical Marxism and Trotskyite "permanent revolution", the leftist radicals infested, and still infest, campuses across Britain.
Since the 1970s, these leftists have promoted the myth of Palestinian perpetual martyrdom, and portrayed Israel as a bogeyman. During the 1980s, they supported the unwashed women who camped rough outside RAF Greenham Common, a US-linked air base in Bedfordshire, Britain. Though ignored by most students, activists promoted an agenda of anti-Americanism and anti-semitism that has infected at least two generations of post-graduates.
Ultimately they contributed to British media's fawning over the notion of Palestinian, and by extension all Muslims', victimhood. Now grown up, the former student union activists are the first to hurl the term "Islamophobe" at anyone who questions the spread of radical Islam. In such a climate, it has been easy for Islamic radicalism to flourish, and even to be welcomed on Britain's campuses.
On Monday September 26, 2005, Britain's Social Affairs Unit published a report by Professor Anthony Glees and Chris Pope from Brunel University. This report, entitled "When Students Turn To Terror" listed 24 universities where radicalism flourished, including Birmingham, Brunel, Durham, Leeds, Leeds Metropolitan, Luton, Leicester, Manchester Metropolitan, Newcastle, Nottingham, Reading, Swansea, and Wolverhampton.
Coming out while Britain was still reeling from the horrors of 7/7, when 52 people died on London Transport, Professor Glees' report galvanized the UK media. Already mosques and radical preachers had been named as contributing factors to the bombings of July 7, 2005. Universities had thitherto been ignored. Yet Britain's campuses, playgrounds of amateur radicals and Islamists, had been the elephant in the living room that everyone had ignored.
Many leading Muslim terrorists have been educated at Britain's universities. Azahari bin Husin, the senior bomb-maker from Jemaah Islamiyah who masterminded the Bali bombings of October 12, 2002 (killing 202 people) and October 1, 2005 (killing 20), studied at Reading University in the 1990s. He gained a doctorate in engineering before going off to join Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
On February 26, 1993, Ramzi Yousef drove a truck carrying a 1,200 pound bomb laced with cyanide into the car park beneath the World Trade Center. The ensuing blast killed six and injured 1,000. Four years before he committed this atrocity, Yousef completed a degree in engineering at West Glamorgan Institute (now Swansea Institute of Higher Education).
Dr Rihab Rashid Taha al-Azawi, Saddam Hussein's "Doctor Germ", responsible for his biological warfare programs, learned her trade in Britain. In 1984, she gained a PhD in plant toxins at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia.
Individuals such as the above did not flaunt their Islamist credentials at college. Other individuals in British universities linked to terrorism have been allowed to lecture. One such person is 52-year old Bashir Musa Mohammed Nafi (pictured above right), who is alleged to be a founder of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Like Sami al-Arian, who formerly lectured at the University of South Florida, Bashir Musa Mohammed Nafi was, as recently as 2003, an occasional lecturer at Birkbeck College at the University of London. Here, he taught Islamic studies. In the 1990s, Nafi collaborated with al-Arian in Florida. Accused by the US of being the UK leader of PIJ, Nafi has denied the claims.
In 2004, Professor Anthony Glees claimed that academics in Britain's universities were actively hampering attempts by security services to defend the nation against Islamist threats. He claimed that many academics were "hostile to the idea of intervention in international affairs and have, since 1980, harboured strong suspicions of American motives."
In July 2004, the Times reported that two UK universities, the University of Wales and the University of Loughborough, had given official approval to two Islamic colleges which supported both the Taliban and terror-group Hamas. The rector of the Markfield Institute of Higher Education is a member of the extremist party in Pakistan, the Jamaat-e-Islami, who was said to have praised the Taliban. Markfield was supported by Loughborough University and has been praised by the pro-Islamic Prince Charles.
The European Institute of Human Sciences in Llanybydder, West Wales was validated by the University of Wales. It teaches Arabic courses inspired by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Times claimed.
During the 1990s, a new phenomenon emerged on campuses and colleges in Britain - that of open radicals who loudly proclaimed their contempt for Western values, and unequivicolly pronouncing their jihadist intentions.
Bizarrely, as Melanie Phillips reported in her book "Londonistan", the department of MI5 which dealt with radical Islamism was closed in 1994, while they considered the issue of the IRA to be more important. With the cat put away, the rats came out to play, in full force. During this hiatus in surveillance, two groups came to the fore, both connected with the Syrian-born Islamist preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed.
Bakri (pictured below left) had arrived in Britain in 1985 as an "asylum-seeker", after he was deported from Saudi Arabia for belonging to a group classed as too "extreme" even for the center of Wahhabism. This group was called "Al-Muhajiroun", or "the emigrants". Bakri, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood had founded this group in Saudi Arabia in 1983 as a front for Hizb ut-Tahrir, the "revolutionary" Islamist group which is banned in most Middle Eastern countries.
When he arrived in Britain, Bakri founded the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir. In 1996, he also established Al-Muhajiroun in Britain. These two groups have the aim of establishing Britain as an Islamist state, and yearn for the restoration of the Caliphate, a system of Islamic central government. The last Caliphate, that of the Ottomans, was dissolved in 1924.
On Britain's campuses, the two groups established their influence during the latter half of the 1990s, particularly after MI5 stopped treating Islam seriously. Hizb ut-Tahrir members regularly threatened to kill Peter Tatchell, a homosexual rights campaigner, and Al Muhajiroun (AM) openly pronounced their hatred of Jews. In the fall of 2000, AM placed posters on university campuses which proclaimed: "The last hour will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill the Jews."
Threats and slogans aside, both groups had a more real danger inherent in their activities. Their presence of AM on campuses in various universities led MI5 to set up a unit to monitor student Islamism at the dawn of the millennium. In early 2001, Russian authorities urged Britain to ban Al-Muhajiroun, as their intelligence showed that students from the London School of Economics had been recruited by the group to become terrorists in Chechnya.
In December 2000 Mohammed Bilal, a young British Muslim, who had been studying his "A-levels" at a sixth form college in Birmingham, went to India. Bilal had links to Al-Muhajiroun. He blew himself up in a stolen car. This suicide attack at an army barracks in Kashmir killed six soldiers and three civilians.
In October 2001, Al-Muhajiroun claimed that three British Muslims were killed by a US rocket attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. The group claimed that 1,000 British Muslims had gone to Afghanistan since 9/11.
In November 2001, Hassan Butt of Al-Muhajiroun announced that five British Muslims had died in Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan. Butt said: "They all died as martyrs fighting the so-called coalition against terrorism. They went out there to fight for the Taliban and were prepared to give their lives."
On January 7, 2002, Butt told the BBC's Today program from his base in Lahore, Pakistan, that many of the British Muslims in Afghanistan would, upon their return, launch terror attacks which would "strike at the heart" of Britain. Butt boasted of personally recruiting 200 people to fight the coalition.
Bakri cannily denounced Butt's claims, saying that Al-Muhajiroun did not support military actions. He also said that Butt was no longer a member of the group and was no longer its spokesman.
Bakri is a liar. At a meeting in Sparkbrook in Birmingham, held less than a week after 9/11, Al Muhajiroun urged listeners to join the armed jihad against coalition troops. One speaker said that Muslims who supported the invasion of Afghanistan were to be urged not to do so. "But if they do not listen, they are Kufr (unbelievers) too and so it is our duty to fight and even kill them." Leaflets at the meetings proclaimed: "The final hour will not come until the Muslims conquer the White House."
In Derby, Bakri used to visit the Al-Muhajiroun members, who had a strong following in the town. In 2000, he told a meeting there that Muslims must send armies "to fight the aggressors and occupiers and establish the Khilafah (Caliphate)." He issued a fatwa saying that "the Israeli cancer in Palestine must be uprooted."
While Al-Muhajiroun targeted students with an attempt to inspire them to jihad, the other group headed by Omar Bakri Mohammed was making inroads at universities and colleges throughout Britain. Hizb ut-Tahrir began to infiltrate student unions and Islamic societies, and their message was equally uncompromising.
Hizb ut-Tahrir's approach was similarly supportive of violence and used intimidation to achieve its ends. Its most notable influence was to force Muslim women students to wear the hijab or Muslim headscarf. This item had been only used by the older generation of Muslim women until the 1990s. Before the campaigns from Hizb ut-Tahrir, the item had hardly been seen on a campus.
Yet during this decade, while the British government downplayed the seriousness of Islamic radicalism as part of a global movement towards dominance, the behavior of Hizb ut-Tahrir should have raised alarm bells. Britain's Channel 4 even made a documentary of Omar Bakri Mohammed, filmed over a year in and around his base in Tottenham, north London. Screened on April 8, 1997, this show, entitled "Tottenham Ayatollah" portrayed Bakri as a clownish buffoon.
The documentary's approach was almost consciously misleading. In 1996, Bakri had tried to invite Osama bin Laden to Britain, to attend an "Islamic Revival Rally". Though the show supplied evidence of Bakri's preaching of hatred towards Jews, it was condemned by various Muslim groups. Makbool Javaid, chair of the Association of Muslim Lawyers, tried to prevent the broadcast going out.
There was nothing funny about Omar Bakri Mohammed. Before the documentary was shown, Bakri had addressed 200 students at the Newham College of Further Education, on Thursday, February 23, 1995. Bakri had a core group of supporters at this college in east London. The following day an African student, Ayotunde Obanubi, was stabbed in the arm at the college by a Hizb ut-Tahrir supporter. On Monday February 27, a group of several Hizb ut-Tahrir supporting students, led by Saeed Nur, again attacked Mr Obanubi. The Nigerian student was accused of "insulting Islam". The group was armed with hammers and knives. Struck on the head with a hammer and stabbed through the heart, Ayotunde Obanubi died on the steps of the college. Bakri's followers had claimed their first victim.