Review finds no evidence that UCL radicalised alleged bomber

There is “no evidence” that a Nigerian graduate accused of attempting to blow up a plane on Christmas Day last year was radicalised while studying at University College London, an independent review has concluded.

October 8, 2010

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who studied engineering at UCL between 2005 and 2008, was charged with the attempted murder of 289 people after allegedly igniting explosives sewn into his underwear while the airliner was over the US last year.

A review panel was established in January to investigate whether the former president of UCL’s student Islamic Society, who told US authorities that he had been directed by al-Qaeda, was radicalised during his time at the university, and whether conditions at UCL were “conducive to the radicalisation of students”.

In a 24-page report published today, the review, which was led by Dame Fiona Caldicott, principal of Somerville College, Oxford, says there is “no evidence to suggest that Mr Abdulmutallab was radicalised while at UCL”.

While the report notes that he is the third student or former student at UCL to have been charged with a terror offence, it declares that “no student-support system, however sophisticated, would have drawn attention to Mr Abdulmutallab as a potential terrorist”.

It says that his peers and tutors recalled him as “quiet, well-spoken and affable” and as someone who was religious but not a zealot. He was “neither isolated nor lonely” during his student days, and as president of the Islamic Society was “quiet but effective”.

The report also states that Mr Abdulmutallab was not responsible for organising a “War on Terror” week during his presidency, contrary to press reports.

It concludes with a series of recommendations, including strengthening the UCL Union’s process for monitoring invitations to visiting speakers.

Sir Stephen Wall, chair of UCL’s council, welcomed “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”.

He added: “The panel has identified a number of UCL processes that we will be reviewing as a result of the report…Understandably, there has been a great deal of speculation on this case, and the review panel was set up in part also to examine the issues clearly, and assess the validity of some of the claims made.

“In sections of the media it was implied or stated that UCL was in some sense complicit in what happened. The review panel has tested such claims thoroughly, and I hope that its work will serve to alleviate some of the more outlandish claims made.”

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