Lecturer who praised terrorist as ‘beautiful fighter’ no longer employed by university

Announcement comes as Sheffield Hallam says it is building a southern branch at Brent Cross, in the heart of north London’s Jewish community


A Palestinian lecturer exposed by the JC after she met the terrorist hijacker Leila Khaled and praised her as a “beautiful fighter” has left her employer, Sheffield Hallam University, the JC can reveal.

The disclosure – made to this newspaper by a senior university official – came on the eve of an announcement today that Sheffield Hallam is about to build a second, southern branch at Brent Cross, in the heart of north London’s Jewish community.

The lecturer, Shahd Abusalama, was cleared by an internal university inquiry that reported in February, when she was given a new contract as an associate lecturer – an event she celebrated on social media, saying she had been “wholly exonerated of the false charges of antisemitism, brought under the not-fit-for-purpose IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Association] definition.”

However, shortly afterwards she became the subject of a fresh complaint by a Jewish student, and the university commissioned a second investigation by human rights barrister Akua Reindorf.

Speaking to the JC, Sheffield Hallam’s deputy vice chancellor, Richard Calvert, said confidentiality rules meant he could give details of neither the second complaint nor Ms Reindorf’s findings.

But he added: “She is no longer an employee of the university. She’s not worked for us for a number of months.”

Until now, neither the second investigation nor the end of Dr Abusalama’s contract have been made public.  

Asked whether she had been asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement, Mr Calvert said he could not comment.

Dr Abusalama, who was born in Gaza, is the daughter of terrorist who planted bombs on behalf of the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, and was jailed by Israel for 15 years.

She has long been the author of controversial statements. Only last week she retweeted a claim that the sacking of the National Union of Students former president Shaima Dallali on grounds of antisemitism was an “Israel lobby coup”.

As the JC revealed in February, Dr Abusalama has claimed that “Zionist lobbies buy presidents”, and lavishly praised the PFLP hijacker Leila Khaled after meeting her in 2020, describing her as a “a symbol of the Palestinian revolution in her glory, hijacking airplanes and shaking the Zionist entity and the world”.

In 2014, she posted a photo of Dalal Mughrabi on Facebook – a perpetrator of the 1978 Coast Road massacre, when she personally shot and killed an American wildlife photographer. Her militant comrades hijacked a bus and massacred 38 of its occupants, including 13 children.

Ms Abusalama said that the terrorists “managed to establish a republic of Palestine in a bus, and their republic lasted four hours. It doesn’t matter how long this republic lasted, the important thing is that it was established.”

She has also called Kozo Okamato, one of the three Lod airport terrorists who killed 26 in the arrivals area in 1972, a “freedom fighter” and “revolutionary”.

However, she insisted in an interview with the radical Electronic Intifada website that the that she was only accused of antisemitism because “I dare to speak up against power and I dare to demand freedom just as an equality for my people”.

Mr Calvert told the JC that Sheffield Hallam’s planned southern branch – part of a huge development of housing, businesses and shops next to London’s North Circular Road that is already being built – would have 5,000 students by the end of the decade.

It will occupy six floors of a tower block totaling 110,000 square feet, and there will also be a large accommodation bloc housing 700 students

After the months of secrecy regarding Dr Abusalama’s fate, it is notable that the university and the developers reached out to the JC, explicitly stating that they wished to address her case.

 Mr Calvert said: “We are committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all our students.” Asked whether he was aware that the development is in an area with a high population of Jews, he said he was aware of this, and “of course we recognise that there will be concerns”.

He added that although it is true that Dr Abuslama was given a new contract in February, it was only as an associate lecturer – which meant there was no commitment as to how much teaching she would do. He said that after the second investigation, she “chose to leave the university”.

There is nothing on Dr Abusalama’s Twitter or Instagram accounts to suggest that her employment with Sheffield Hallam has come to an end. Her LinkedIn profile describes her as “currently working as an associate lecturer at the Media Arts and Communications department at Sheffield Hallam University”.

The JC has approached her for comment.

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