Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Students 'face radicalisation risk'

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attended University College London (AP)
University College London was cleared of any blame over the alleged Christmas Day bomb plot

Students at the university attended by the alleged Christmas Day bomber will remain at risk of radicalisation for as long as the institution retains its "educational mission and character", a report has found.

But University College London (UCL) was cleared of any blame over the plot as the report concluded there was no evidence that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was radicalised while studying at the institution.

Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to ignite explosives stored in his underwear as Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam, carrying 280 passengers, made its final descent towards Detroit on December 25 last year.

The Nigerian, now known as Umar Farouk, studied an engineering degree at UCL between 2005 and 2008, and was Islamic Society president from 2006 to 2007.

The inquiry, by an independent panel set up by the university's council, found that while there was no evidence to suggest he was radicalised at UCL, the university's approach to freedom of expression and visiting speakers left students open to risks in the future.

It called for improvements including a better vetting system for visiting speakers, more communication between staff and students, and a review of the university's code of conduct on freedom of speech, in a bid to "reduce the future risk of students being radicalised".

But it added: "They will clearly not eliminate the risk of radicalisation of UCL students. We consider that is an unrealistic aim without changing UCL's fundamental educational mission and character."

UCL Council chairman Sir Stephen Wall said: "We welcome the central conclusion that there is no evidence to suggest either that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was radicalised while a student at UCL or that conditions at UCL during that time or subsequently were or are conducive to the radicalisation of students.

"The panel has identified a number of UCL processes which we will be reviewing as a result of the report.

"We note the panel's recommendation that the UCL Union's system for monitoring invitations to visiting speakers be reviewed, and we will be working in consultation with our student body to ensure that this happens, while maintaining our legal obligation to guarantee freedom of speech on campus within the law."

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