Daily Mail - UK June 6, 2011
40 UK universities are now breeding grounds for terror as hardline groups peddle hate on campus
By JAMES SLACK, HOME AFFAIRS EDITOR
England's universities have become a breeding ground for extremism and terrorist recruitment, according to a disturbing government report.
Officials have identified 40 English universities where ‘there may be particular risk of radicalisation or recruitment on campus’.
A soon to be published Whitehall report – seen by the Daily Mail – will point to a string of examples of students going on to commit terrorist acts against this country or overseas.
Alarmingly the Prevent review says that ‘more than 30 per cent of people convicted for Al Qaeda-associated terrorist offences in the UK... are known to have attended university or a higher education institution.
‘Another 15 per cent studied or achieved a vocational or further education qualification. About 10 per cent of the sample were students at the time when they were charged or the incident for which they were convicted took place.’
The report, prepared by Home Office officials, warns of hardline Islamic groups specifically targeting universities which have large numbers of Muslim students in order to peddle a message of hate.
Students are even ‘engaging in terrorism or related activities while members of university societies’.
But it says the universities are not doing enough to respond to this threat to national security. Fewer than half of universities are engaged with the police.
Home Secretary Theresa May will demand universities do more to confront this threat. She also wants more action to deport preachers of hate.
The universities which have given places to fanatics include some of our most prestigious institutions.
The report will say that terrorists who have attended English universities include Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, the Stockholm suicide bomber who had a BSc in sports therapy from the University of Luton, now the University of Bedfordshire.
The alleged Detroit underpants bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, studied mechanical engineering at University College London between 2005 and 2008.
Two of the fanatics convicted of the transatlantic liquid bomb plot – ringleader Abdulla Ahmed Ali and Assad Sarwar – attended City and Brunel Universities respectively.
The review says the Department for Business, which is in charge of universities, has identified about 40 English universities where there may be a particular risk.
Some now have a dedicated police officer to advise on tackling radicalisation.The document raises particular alarm about the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS).
It says there are ‘several examples of students engaging in terrorism or related activities while members of university societies affiliated to FOSIS.
Such extremists must have no part in any organisation that wishes to be recognised as a representative body.’
The finger of blame for radicalising students is pointed at Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which David Cameron promised to ban in opposition, and off-shoots of a fanatical group once run by preacher of hate Omar Bakri.
One section warns: ‘We believe there is unambiguous evidence to indicate that some extremist organisations, notably Hizb-ut-Tahrir, target specific universities and colleges (notably those with a large number of Muslim students) with the objective of radicalising and recruiting students.’
Universities UK says that universities ‘are places where ideas and beliefs can be tested without fear of control’, and that they act as a safeguard against ideologies that threaten Britain’s open society.
The worries about the lax attitude of some universities is combined with concern about the student visa route.
Ten of the 11 Pakistani nationals seized on suspicion of plotting an atrocity in the North-West in 2009 had student visas.
The alleged ringleader of this plot – Abid Naseer – was a computer studies student at Liverpool John Moores University.
Mrs May is determined to crack down on the abuse of the student visa route.
However, she has faced opposition within government from Michael Gove’s Education Department and Business Secretary Vince Cable.
Meanwhile, Whitehall officials are said to be concerned that Mr Gove’s flagship ‘free schools’ policy – where parents can obtain state funding to open and run their own schools – could be targeted by extremists.
Security officials working in a dedicated unit are expected to vet the backgrounds of all would-be applicants for evidence of extremism or radicalisation.
The Prevent strategy is said to have caused behind-the-scenes rows within the Government.
Mr Gove is understood to have argued that the Government should not engage with groups which hold any extremist beliefs – even though these are the ones most likely to attract would-be terrorists.
Four months ago, in a major speech in Munich, the Prime Minister signalled an end to ‘passive tolerance’ of extremist Islamic organisations which foster hatred against the West and radicalise young Muslims
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