A former student at a London university charged with attempting to blow up a plane over the US on Christmas Day was unlikely to have been radicalised on campus, an independent inquiry ruled yesterday.
The inquiry found no evidence that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab adopted extremist views while studying engineering at University College London. It also said there was no evidence that conditions at the university were “conducive to the radicalisation of students”.
Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, is in US custody facing charges including attempted murder and attempting to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight above Detroit on 25 December last year. He was president of UCL’s Islamic Society in his second year and graduated in 2008.
The inquiry, set up by UCL’s governing body but carried out by an independent panel, found that “no student support system” would have drawn attention to Abdulmutallab as a potential terrorist. “The evidence is that he was not lonely or isolated while at UCL and that he became well integrated into the student body.”
The inquiry report cleared the Islamic Society of any involvement in radicalisation. It said: “We found no evidence of an extremist subculture operating within the UCLU ISoc either during the year of Abdulmutallab’s presidency or in the preceding year, when he was a first year student, or subsequently.”
The inquiry’s sober findings stand in sharp contrast to the hysterical right-wing campaign launched against UCL and the students’ union Islamic Society following Abdulmutallab’s arrest, which was condemned at the time.