This is a cross-post from Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens at Standpoint
Both Nick Cohen in this blog and in the Observer, as well as Student Rights, have covered this issue quite extensively, so I will not repeat the many good points they have made about the recent UCL inquiry into the radicalisation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. There are, however, a couple of points which have not, from what I have seen, been flagged up.
When addressing the ‘War on Terror week’ event, which was organised in part by Abdulmutallab, the UCL report states:
A good deal was made in press and media coverage of Mr Abdulmutallab’s role in organising the ISoc’s ‘War on Terror’ week during the year of his presidency. We learned from his immediate predecessor as President that the ISoc committee saw the week in question as an important opportunity to address issues that were not otherwise widely discussed on campus and that he, rather than Mr Abdulmutallab, had been mainly responsible for organising the event. As current ISoc President, Mr Abdulmutallab was required to sign off the arrangements for the week but he was not a principal organiser. His immediate predecessor as President also recalled Mr Abdulmutallab attending only two of the ‘War on Terror’ week events as he was very busy with academic work at the time.
Student Rights, when discussing this point, mention that Abdulmutallab “approved speakers like Moazzam Begg” for this event, and a New York Times report claims that Abdulmutallab was in fact sitting “very close” to Begg during the event. Begg’s presence at Abdulmutallab’s War on Terror week is particularly relevant because, as I have pointed out in the past, of a man called Anwar al-Awlaki. He is recognised as one of the men who instilled within Abdulmutallab an ideological devotion to al-Qaeda and, during the time that Begg was known to the Nigerian, Begg’s organisation, CagePrisoners, were busily promoting (see p.15 of this report) the preacher as a great Sheikh who stood up to American imperialism.
That the UCL report has failed to address the fact that Awlaki’s primary supporter in the UK was invited to an event organised by Abdulmutallab must be seen as a major oversight.
There is also another Awlaki connection that is a bit closer to home for the UCL inquiry. Among the members of the inquiry team was a certain Mohammed Abdul Bari, chairman of the East London Mosque. “Why is this relevant?” You may well ask. Well, for one, his mosque has hosted Awlaki on at least two occassions (see page 9), and on the first of these two instances, in 2003, Awlaki told his audience not to cooperate with the police under any circumstances. However, it is his second appearance that is even more damning for Dr Bari’s mosque as it took place in 2009, and went ahead despite mosque being quite clearly informed (by a report in the Daily Telegraph) of the preacher’s pro-al-Qaeda stance three days before the event took place.
For an in depth analysis on the radicalisation of Abdulmutallab, see this recent paper I co-authored: ‘The Making of the Christmas Day Bomber’