Banned jihadi group in push to ‘infiltrate’ UK campuses

Members of the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which argues for the destruction of Israel, have been keynote speakers at UK universities


UK activists affiliated to a notorious jihadi group that advocates the violent destruction of Israel have been covertly returning to speak on UK campuses despite being banned from universities, the JC can reveal.

Prominent members of the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose stated goal is to establish a global Muslim caliphate governed by sharia law, have been the keynote speakers at ten separate events at universities in the last 18 months.

Union-affiliated Islamic societies have run the events at universities including Bradford, Birmingham and the London School of Economics (LSE) without publicising the speakers’ links to Hizb ut-Tahrir and despite a longstanding ban on the Islamist group by the National Union of Students.

It is unclear whether any of the Islamic Societies involved were aware of the speakers’ afflilations to Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The speakers have included Luqman Muqeem, who has also posted videos online in which he says Muslims must fight Jews to the death and that the only Jewish “promised land” is hell.

Muqeem, who is featured prominently on Hizb ut-Tahrir’s website, has spoken on campus at least six times since November 2021, giving five talks at Birmingham University and another at the University of Bradford.

A mechanical engineering graduate who lives in Stoke on Trent, he has consistently expressed extremist views online, voicing support for the attack on The Satanic Verses author Sir Salman Rushdie.

Rushdie was left in life-threatening condition and lost an eye and the use of one hand when he was attacked on stage in New York by a knifeman last year.

In response, Muqeem said: “We should feel zero pity for anyone who spent a lifetime mocking and insulting the prophets of Allah.”

He also shared a video of Hizb ut-Tahrir activist Belal Mohammed calling for a jihad to “wipe out the Zionist entity”, commenting that this was a “powerful message from the UK”.

Publicity for his talks did not mention his role with Hizb ut-Tahrir, simply referring to him as Brother Luqman Muqeen and mentioning his previous position with the Aston University  Islamic society.

Another series of campus talks featured Rupon Shahid, who is featured on Hizb ut-Tahrir’s website and is a regular speaker at its conferences, but again his involvement with the group was never mentioned.

Another series of campus talks featured Rupon Shahid, who is featured on Hizb ut-Tahrir’s website and is a regular speaker at its conferences, but again his involvement with the group was never mentioned.

Also known as Rupon Shahidul Haque, he has also given talks at Birmingham University and at the LSE in the last two years.

According to LinkedIn, Shahid is a graduate of the London School of Oriental and African Studies and works as a business analyst at a pharmaceutical company.

During the Gaza conflict in 2021, he posted comments on Facebook asking god to “make us part of the army of Muhammad that enters al-Aqsa to liberate it” and called for the “liberation of filistin [Palestine] via jihad”.

He has also posted photographs of a meeting he had in the West Bank city of Hebron with the imam Sheikh Abu Oma Sara, who was jailed by Israel in 2016 after he issued a video saying: “I say to the Jews clearly: it’s time to slaughter you. It’s time to fight you. It’s time to kill you.” Shahid wrote in 2017 that he met Sara “a few years ago” and urged Allah “to keep him steadfast and release him soon”.

The failure to mention the speakers’ Hizb ut-Tahrir affiliations in publicity surrounding the talks has prompted the Community Security Trust to warn that it has been trying to “infiltrate universities by covert means”.

“This is a well-known extremist organisation with a long record of spreading anti-Jewish hatred, and a history of using front groups to get their speakers onto campus,” a CST spokesperson said.

“Universities and Student Unions ought to be much more alert to the danger of extremists circumventing their rules in this way.”

The view was backed by the Union of Jewish Students, which said: “We are deeply concerned by these reports.

“Extremist groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir should not be allowed to spread their rhetoric on campus, inciting hatred against Jewish people. We will fight to ensure that Hizb ut-Tahrir is no longer platformed at universities, while we continue our defence and enrichment of Jewish life on campus, which thrives in spite of this.”

Security and intelligence expert Professor Anthony Glees, who has extensively researched Hizb ut-Tahrir, also questioned its return to campuses. He said: “Hizb ut-Tahrir should have been proscribed as a terrorist organisation years ago...

“The student societies who have hosted its speakers should immediately be investigated by counter-terrorist police. Universities are for learning, and they are the very last places that should harbour soap boxes for Islamism.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was founded in Jerusalem in 1953 and is said to have organised attempted coups in Jordan, Syria and Egypt in the 1960s and 70s, has a long history of antisemitism, both in Britain and abroad.

Its British branch rose to prominence mid-1990s under the leadership of Omar Bakri Mohammed, whose radical and provocative pronouncements included claims that he had given religious instruction to two Britons who went to Israel on a suicide bombing mission that killed four people; and that the July 2005 suicide bomb attacks on London were the fault of the British people. Bakri later left the group to set up his own organisation and was later jailed in Lebanon on terrorism charges. He was released earlier

At one stage the then-prime minister Tony Blair said he would like to see the organisation banned but eventually decided against it.

However, UK-based Hizb ut-Tahrir activists have continually expressed views against Jews and supported violence.

A press release issued in 2021 during that year’s conflict between Israel and the Hamas terror group in Gaza, stated: “The monstrous Jews are spreading their brutal aggression on all parts of Palestine,” and spoke of “the crimes of the Jews.”

At rallies in London and Birmingham that year, Hizb ut-Tahrir speakers pledged to “wipe out the Zionist entity”, saying the conflict would end with “jihad fisabilillah”, which means “jihad for the sake of Allah”.

It continued a theme from a  leaflet distributed in 1999, which described Jews as “cowards” and called on Muslims to “purify yourselves against the deceptions of the Jews”. It added: “Know that the Jews and their usurping state in Palestine will, by the Help and Mercy of Allah, be destroyed, until the stones and trees will say: ‘O Muslim, o slave of Allah, Here is Jew behind a tree so come and kill him.’”

A video published on YouTube just two months ago says that under shariah law, the state of Israel is “illegal, wrong, void and false”, adding that that Britain “forced Jews to go to Palestine and shipped them over there” because it wanted to “create this illegal state” which would “further British interests”.

The NUS banned the group from British university unions and their societies in 2004 on the grounds it was “responsible for supporting terrorism and publishing material that incites racial hatred”. National NUS conferences have reaffirmed the ban several times, most recently in 2019, despite attempts by Muslim student groups to get it lifted.

Despite this, the JC can reveal, this ban appears to be regularly being flouted. In February 2023, Muqeem was again a speaker at Birmingham University. On this occasion he was joined by another Hizb ut-Tahrir activist, Taha Ibrahi, also known as Taha Hanif.

Hanif works as a highways and traffic engineer and has spoken at numerous Hizb ut-Tahrir meetings and is featured videos published by the group.

Hanif spoke at a Hizb ut-Tahrir demonstration in London in May 2021, when he told “the Muslim youth” that “the solution for al Aqsa and Gaza is liberation via jihad conducted by the Muslim armies”. Later, when the 2021 conflict between Israel and Gaza ended in a ceasefire, he called Hamas’ decision to agree to it as “treacherous”.

He has also tweeted the infamous Arabic slogan that means “Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, Muhammad’s army will return”, a reference to the massacre of Jews at the Battle of Khaybar in what is now Saudi Arabia in the seventh century and a threat it will be repeated.

Another Hizb ut-Tahrir speaker, Omar Kaykhusrau, is studying for a PhD in economics at Kings College, London. Under the name Faruq ibn Qaysr he spoke at a Hizb ut-Tahrir meeting about Brexit, and has given talks to societies at Birmingham City University and, in March this year, at the LSE. In now-deleted Facebook posts Kaykhushrau asked Allah to “purge the Zionist scum from Palestine” and called on Muslims not to vote for Labour candidates who “support the Zionist occupation” or “the mass indoctrination of the youth with LGBTQ”.

A Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman said it was “well known for its consistent critique of the illegal occupation of Palestine”. He said he did not know why “university student union societies would choose not to advertise that invited guests are members of Hizb ut-Tahrir,” and “could not speak on behalf of them”, but suggested the NUS ban on Hizb ut-Tahrir was part of a wider “cancel culture”.

He added that “in such an environment of cancelling debate, it takes no great leap of the imagination to determine why organisers may decide to do so.”

Contacted by the JC, Muqeem refused to comment on his talks to universities, his membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir, or his views. He said: “I’m not interested in having this conversation”.

The Islamic societies at Bradford, Birmingham, Birmingham City universities and LSE were contacted for comment. Shahid, Hanif and Kaykrusrau were also approached for comment.

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