Radical Islam And British Universities: Part Two
By Adrian Morgan
In 1994, the Indian High Commissioner, L. M. Singhvi, claimed that Muslim students at British colleges and universities were being recruited by Islamist terror groups in India. The London School of Economics and the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies were claimed to be places where students were particularly susceptible to such recruitment.
After followers of Hizb ut-Tahrir murdered Ayotunde Obanubi on Monday February 27, 1995, at Newham College of Further Education, repercussions ensued. The National Union of Students banned the group from its meetings in the same year. In 1996, Omar Bakri Mohammed either resigned or was expelled from the British Hizb ut-Tahrir group which he had founded.
Hizb ut-Tahrir continued to campaign on campuses, intimidating Muslim women into wearing veils, but it was not allowed to speak publicly or hold meetings in student union buildings. With Bakri no longer an active member, the group promoted itself as a "non-violent" organization, even though it remained virulently anti-semitic and opposed to democracy.
Bakri took his most violent and extremist members from Hizb ut-Tahrir and officially founded British Al-Muhajiroun in February 1996. Bakri took on the role of "Emir" or "spiritual leader", while his deputy was Anjem Choudary, a former lawyer.
The Institute for Counter-Terrorism last month reported on a recent conversation (in Arabic) between Bakri and the newspaper Asharq Alawsat. Here he said that Al Muhajiroun targeted more than 48 different universities in Britain, including Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, the LSE, Imperial College, Westminster University, and King's College. This figure is twice the amount claimed by Professor Anthony Glees (pictured, right) in his 2005 study "When Students Turn To Terror".
The London School of Economics, according to a 2002 report, was certainly a locus for Islamist terror recruitment. In a report by UK intelligence, it was claimed that Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had became a student at the LSE in 1992, went to Bosnia in 1993 and the following year became involved in Kashmiri terrorist groups, including Jaish-e-Mohammed. He was arrested in 1994 after a police shoot-out following the kidnapping of three British backpackers. He escaped from jail in 1999, and was captured by Pakistani police on February 12, 2002. Omar Sheikh was captured for his involvement in the kidnapping and beheading of US journalist Daniel Pearl, and given a death sentence on July 15, 2002.
Bizarrely, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan states in his recent book "In The Line Of Fire" that Omar Sheikh had been originally recruited by Britain's international intelligence agency, MI6. Omar Sheikh admits to meeting Osama bin Laden twice, but claims his allegiance is more to Mullah Omar of the Taliban. Omar Sheikh is said to have financed the 9/11 terrorist, Mohammed Atta.
The 2002 intelligence report claims that another student from the LSE recruited for Jaish-e-Mohammed, and a third man who was arrested for involvement in the 2001 attack upon the Indian parliament (killing seven) actually lectured to Muslim students at the LSE in 1999.
An official at the LSE claimed: "There was some activity in the mid-1990s. Together with the students' union we checked that only bona fide students were actually linked to the Islamic society." In 2000, members of Al-Muhajiroun were physically expelled from a freshers' fair at the LSE after trying to recruit students.
Al-Muhajiroun declared that there was a "covenant of security" between British Muslims and the UK, which meant that while Muslims were allowed to operate there would be no terrorist attacks on British soil. In 2005, the Sunday Times stated that more than a dozen Al-Muhajiroun members had gone on to become suicide bombers abroad. These included Asif Hanif, who had been one of two Britains involved in the April 2003 attack upon Mike's Bar on the Tel Aviv sea front, which killed three and wounded sixty.
In October 2004, Omar Bakri Mohammed announced that Al-Muhajiroun would be disbanding. In February 2005, he declared that the "covenant of security" had ended. Four months later, 52 people died when four Muslims, two of whom had been university-educated, decided to enact "jihad" in London.
Though Al-Muhajiroun was disbanded, it nonetheless continued under other names, with exactly the same membership. It became the Saviour Sect and Al Ghurabaa. These groups were still led by the "Emir", Omar Bakri Mohammed. The Saviour Sect soon changed its name to become the Saved Sect.
Changing of names is a tactic also employed by Hizb ut-Tahrir in its recruitment drives, where its activists hide behind groups with innocuous titles such as East London Youth Forum, the Debate Society, the Muslim Women's Cultural Forum, the Islamic Society, the One Nation Society, the Millennium Society, the Pakistan Society and the 1924 Committee.
After the July 7 ,2005 bombings Tony Blair announced in August that he intended to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir. When Blair made this announcement, the Islamist group which professed "non-violence" threatened to create riots. To this day Hizb ut-Tahrir has still not been banned in Britain.
The UK home secretary, John Reid, banned the former Al-Muhajiroun groups in July 2006. This ban has done nothing to stop Omar Bakri's followers, as in November 2005 the same core membership of Al-Muhajiroun had founded Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah, under the leadership of Anjem Choudary.
When Bakri fled to Lebanon in August 2005, he was banned from returning. For two decades he had controlled young Muslims, urging them to claim welfare benefits, to refuse to work and to never vote. But he continued to use the internet to inspire his followers.
In July 2005, it was reported by the National Union of Students that Al-Muhajiroun and Hizb ut-Tahrir members were still trying to recruit members from Scottish universities, using "front" names to avoid detection. Imran Waheed, the head spokesperson of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain, said: "We are an intellectual and political movement and we work in Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh. Universities should be a forum for debate and we are trying to overturn the NUS ban which we believe is completely unjustified."
In October 2005, it was revealed that Hizb ut-Tahrir, under another name, was recruiting at University College London, London University's School of Oriental Studies, Luton University and others. Capitalizing on the leftist students' love of the term "Islamophobia" to stifle rational debate about Islamism, Hizb ut-Tahrir were operating under the title "Stop Islamophobia".
Anjem Choudary followed his "Emir" to Lebanon, but was deported in November 2005. Unable to speak or recruit at British universities, Choudary was within a week addressing students at the historic Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Choudary said that because Ireland supported the US (with its planes refueling at Shannon Airport), it was a potential target for terrorism.
On November 1, 2005 Ann Cryer, a Labour politician, MP for Keighley, claimed that one university in West Yorkshire was being targeted by members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, who were threatening students. She did not mention the name of the university, for fear it would affect enrollment, but it is believed to be the University of Bradford. She said: "When I went to the university a few weeks ago I was told that Hizb ut-Tahrir has taken over the Islamic society and was preparing to take over the students union."
On August 10, 2006, it was revealed that a massive plot, involving about twenty British Muslims, had been halted. This plot had involved a plan to smuggle liquid explosives onto several US-bound airlines. These were to be reassembled into bombs on board flights, in the manner first outlined by Ramzi Yousef in 1995, in his notorious "Operation Bojinka".
One of the suspects in this plot was 22-year old Waheed Zaman from Walthamstow, north-east London, who was head of the Islamic Society at London Metropolitan University. Zaman was later charged under Section 1 (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977, as he had "conspired with other persons to murder other persons". In relation to this conspiracy he was charged under Section 5 (1) of the Terrorism Act 2006. - "preparing to smuggle parts of improvised explosive devices on to aircraft and assemble and detonate them on board."
Zaman was a member of the extremist group Tablighi Jamaat. The Sunday Telegraph visited the two portable cabins which served as London Metropolitan University's Islamic Society, based on the campus at Hornsey Road, north London. Here, they found literature and audio cassettes from Omar Bakri Mohammed and Al-Muhajiroun. A newsletter found in the Islamic Society called freedom of speech "undeniably one of the most central deviated forms of moral decline that non-believers have developed."
The problem of radical Islam on British university campuses is entrenched, and any attempts to address the problem are met with whines of "Islamophobia" from Muslims and leftists. Professor Anthony Glees received hostility from Muslims and others for his 2005 report. The vice-chancellor of his university, Steven Schwartz, wrote him a letter stating: "I have been receiving some surprising letters from other v-cs (vice-chancellors) complaining about your report. Some complain about your research methods. Others seem to resent being lumped in with universities that might be inadvertent homes to people bent on terrorism. One v-c seems to think that I should (or could) shut you up."
Glees runs the Brunel Center for Intelligence and Security Studies at Brunel University. As he himself admitted in his 2005 report, Brunel was not immune from the specter of jihadist recruitment. One individual who became targeted for recruitment at Brunel was Jawad Syed.
In his first year, Syed knew no-one but was befriended by Muslim students. Gradually, they encouraged him to isolate himself from other students, including Muslims. He said: "They were very much anti-western with anti-western sentiments. And I clearly saw and experienced that they would use any means to achieve their aims, including violence.... Once they've established that basis of hatred they have you. And then you start working closely with them, under their political agenda, in achieving their greater aim."
Jawad Syed is the protege of an imam who tries to "deprogram" young Muslims who have been indoctrinated by radical Islamists. This man, Sheikh Musa Adami, has been chaplain of London Metropolitan University since 2002. Adami's group is called the Luqman Institute of Education and Development. Despite his concerns about Islamic extremism, Adami failed to recognize the extremist literature which proliferated in Waheed Zaman's Islamic Society, at his own university.
In November 2006, Adami's charity reported that Islamist activists were operating at Brunel University, Bedfordshire University, Sheffield Hallam University and Manchester Metropolitan University. The Luqman institute was deprogramming up to ten students from Brunel University.
The Sunday Times reported that at Sheffield Hallam University in 2006, the Islamic Society hosted a lecture by Sheikh Khalid Yasin. This US preacher is a convert from Christianity, who has said: "There's no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend." Yasin interprets literally the injunction in the Koran (Sura 4:34) that men should be able to beat their wives.
The Muslim chaplain at London's Goldsmith's College is Shakeel Begg, who is also the imam at Lewisham & Kent Mosque in Ladywell, south London. In late 2006, he gave a lecture to Muslim students at Kingston University. Here, he encouraged his audience to fight jihad. He said: "You want to make jihad? Very good... Take some money and go to Palestine and fight, fight the terrorists, fight the Zionists."
In October 2006, a lecture was held at Staffordshire University, entitled "The true word of God - the Koran or the Bible." The lecture was given by a former member of Al-Muhajiroun.
Access to universities is still fairly easy for those who are not registered students. On November 7, 2006, Dhiren Barot (pictured left) was sentenced to a minimum of forty years' jail for his plots to commit terrorist atrocities in New York, Washington, Newark and Britain. Among his plans, the convert from Hinduism, had included a plan to create a "dirty bomb" or "radiological dispersion device. His plans involved the radioactive substance Americium-241 and, as revealed by the Metropolitan Police Press Bureau, they were not idle fantasies. They contained clear details (which have been blacked out for security purposes) based on scientific information. To gather data for his plans, Barot had used a forged pass to enter Brunel University.
Imperial College is a prestigious university in west London, with a good reputation for nuclear research. In November 2005, it introduced a ban on Muslim face-veils, as a security procedure. However, despite its vigilance, this university is not without risk. On December 27, 2006, it was revealed that investigators from Scotland Yard's Counterterrorism Command made an extensive inspection of the university's security. They focused particularly on the nuclear research facilities.
The university has its own nuclear reactor, and with inspectors from the Environment Agency and the Health Protection, Scotland Yard officers checked the nuclear facilities, and took stock of radioactive isotopes. They also did extensive inspection at Harefield Hospital, which has combined its research facilities with Imperial College.
The reason for the inspection has resulted from intelligence which suggests that Islamic extremists have targeted Imperial College.
Though the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir seem to involve mentally "preparing" students for the arrival of jihadist recruiters, in 2005, Mustafa Arif, president of Imperial College's student union, which is not affiliated to the National Union of Students, said of the group: "The culture here would never have been to bar them. They were very small and died out about five years ago. They are nothing compared with some hotheads you read about. As a Muslim I find Hizb a nonsense. Physically they are harmless..."
With such attitudes abounding, it is perhaps no wonder that Imperial College has now been highlighted as a security risk.
Britain's politicians and security services have not always been as vigilant as they should be in rooting out Islamist extremism from either communities or educational establishments. The leftists at Britain's universities have not helped in the attempts to protect against terrorism.
In November 2006, when the Department of Education and Skills urged university lecturers to inform police Special Branch of any Muslim students who appeared to be extremist, Muslims, student unions and universities condemned the suggestion.
Preachers such as Omar Bakri Mohammed are still influencing British Muslims to engage in jihad. From his base in Lebanon, Bakri uses the internet to preach on an almost nightly basis. He recently said about terrorist attacks upon Dublin's Shannon Airport: "Hit the target and hit it very hard, that issue should be understood."
Bakri explained his position clearly in 2004, when he said: ""We don't make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value. It has no sanctity."
The British authorities failed to act against radical preachers such as Bakri when they began their campaigns of indoctrination. Such negligence has ultimately led to homegrown suicide bombings and a climate of fear and tension.
Universities are for education. Because of Britain's complacent climate of multicultural tolerance, universities are now rife with individuals who do not seek to share common values of liberty and democracy. It is ironic that in Britain's establishments of education, there are so many politically naive activists who still need, more than anyone else, to be educated about the dangers of Muslim extremism