How to spot a terrorist – an Islamic specialist explains

Ruth Dudley Edwards 2“Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was by all accounts a decent, virtuous teenager who wanted to do good but, lost and alone in London, he fell into a malign embrace.”

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Ruth Dudley Edwards (billed as an “Islamic specialist”) trots out the familiar right-wing clichés about Abdulmutallab being converted to extremism/terrorism during his three years as a student at University College London.

She accuses the UCL authorities of failing in their duty of care to Abdulmutallab: “Did it concern no one that this lonely boy had taken to wearing Islamic dress? Wasn’t anyone worried about the radicalism of the ‘War on Terror Week’ Abdulmutallab organised as [UCL Islamic society] president?”

Yes, really – according to this “Islamic specialist”, wearing traditional clothing and opposing Bush’s “War on Terror” are apparently signs of incipient terrorism.

See also “Revealed: the true extent of Islamic radical influence at UCL”, Sunday Telegraph, 3 January 2009

An example of the extremism uncovered by the Telegraph‘s intrepid journalists is a motion from Muslim students at UCL proposing to expand the student union’s rules against antisemitism to include Islamophobia. A then member of the UCL Jewish society, which opposed the motion, is quoted as saying: “I cannot remember if Abdulmutallab was on the list of proposers or seconders, but as president of the Islamic society at the time it is likely that he would have been.”

Imagine that it had been the other way round, and the Islamic society had mobilised to defeat a Jewish society proposal that a ban on Islamophobia should be extended to cover antisemitism. TheTelegraph would present this as evidence that the Islamic society was run by a bunch of extremist antisemites. (And, in that hypothetical instance, they would of course have a point.)

Meanwhile, over at the Observer, under the headline “Why I was not surprised about the Christmas Day bomber’s UK links”, yet another ex-member of Hizb ut-Tahrir calls for a ban on his former organisation – with which, so far as we know, Abdulmutallab had no involvement whatsoever.