When will university chiefs finally act?

By Marcus Dysch
November 3, 2010

Roshonara Choudhry has been jailed for life for the attempted murder of MP Stephen Timms.

Inspired by al-Qaeda and Jihadist Anwar al-Awlaki she knifed Mr Timms during a constituency surgery in May.

Thankfully, and no doubt rather luckily, he escaped serious injury or worse.

As Choudhry was jailed, her supporters (yes really) protested in the public gallery, screaming “Allahu akbar”, “British go to hell” and “Curse the judge”. A demonstration was also taking place outside the court.

Mr Justice Cooke told Choudhry: "You said you ruined the rest of your life. You said it was worth it. You said you wanted to be a martyr.

"You intended to kill in a political cause and to strike at those in government by doing so.

"You did so as a matter of deliberate decision making, however skewed your reasons, from listening to those Muslims who incite such action on the internet.

"You do not suffer from any mental disease. You have simply committed evil acts coolly and deliberately."

Choudhry, who is just 21, dropped out of her English degree course at London’s King’s College just weeks before the attack.

She was not the first, and will not be the last, student to be involved in illegal and terror activities.

Last December, former University College London student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arrested after allegedly attempting to blow up a plane flying from Europe to Detroit.

Samar Alami, who also attended UCL, is currently serving a 20-year jail term after she was convicted of detonating a car bomb outside the Israeli embassy in London in 1994.

Undergraduate student Mohammed Abushamma, again from the same university, was jailed for three years in June last year after admitting preparing terror acts.

Al-Awlaki has in the past been a regular speaker on British university campuses. He is currently on the run in Yemen, the country now recognised as the base for terrorist groups posing the greatest threat to this country’s security. YouTube today finally removed videos from its site in which he espouses extremism. A step in the right direction, albeit far too late.

So, how much longer will it take for British university vice-chancellors to finally pull their fingers out and tackle extremism on their campuses?

Their heads-in-the-sand approach has gone on for too long. They were quick to create a working group in the aftermath of Abdulmutallab’s failed bomb plot, but despite meeting throughout this year it is yet to publically utter a single word on what will be done to combat extremists.

Last month Universities UK, the umbrella group which represents the university heads and oversees the working group, said it expected to publish “guidance” by the end of the year.

Fat lot of good "guidance" will do.

The cases of Alami, Abushamma, Choudhry and Abdulmutallab are not isolated incidents. They are not chance events, linked only by the fact that these people happened to have studied on British campuses.

They are part of a continued and concerted effort by Islamic extremists to attack the West and everything it believes in and stands for. Attacks on Jews regularly crop up in the wider scope of their Jihad, as seen just last week with the addressing of the ink cartridge bombs to Jewish communities in Chicago.

Mr Timms survived his attack. During inevitable future incidents innocent victims may not be so lucky.

It is high time someone, preferably Home Secretary Theresa May, takes these pompous, out-of-touch professors by the scruff of the neck and finally forces them to deal with the Jihadi threat at their institutions.

If the problem is left to fester for much longer, it could well be too late to avert further tragedies.


Jonathan Hoffman

Wed, 11/03/2010 - 19:03

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Well said

Malcolm Grant, Provost of UCL, revealed how little he understood about this problem by saying that he did not understand why Abdulmutallab was radicalised, in view of the fact that he came from a good family and had had a good education.

The Parliamentary Report on Antisemitism said 4 years ago that universities needed to act but they did nothing. Their Report on Abdulmutallab was a sick joke.

Universities are obviously incapable of getting their house in order. The government should step in.


Thu, 11/04/2010 - 15:14

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With the unis being cash-strapped, they will have to rely even more on foreign students. That is worrying.


Thu, 11/04/2010 - 21:17

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Given the new fee rises it's likely that there will only be a few dozen people at University within a few years.

Should be easier to keep an eye on at least.....


Thu, 11/04/2010 - 21:23

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btw, sam, Pretty sure she was a home student, not a foreign student.


Thu, 11/04/2010 - 21:28

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Would also add, whilst Islamic radicalisation clearly can happen on campus, I'm not too sure how much in happened in this particular instance. It seems in this case that her radicalisation was inspired by content she viewed online. Also, she claimed it was inspired by the war in Iraq - which would have begun when she was about 13... If this is the case it is likely that the seed of her radicalisation was layed many years before she went to Univerity. News reports do not seem to mention her being involved in any campus-based extremist organisations. Holding Universities responsible for everything that a particular student chooses to do does seem like something of a red herring, besides - it seems she actually dropped out several weeks before the attack happened.


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