Funny how that keeps happening. “Al-Qaeda ‘groomed Abdulmutallab in London’,” by Sean O’Neill and Giles Whitell for Times Online, December 30 (thanks to Kris):
The Christmas Day airline bomb plot suspect organised a conference under the banner “War on Terror Week” as he immersed himself in radical politics while a student in London, The Times has learnt.
This story does not address the possibility that Abdulmutallab could have encountered “extremism” indigenous to Nigeria, or that anyone but al-Qaeda could be the source of his interest in violent acts of jihad.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, a former president of the Islamic Society at University College London, advertised speakers including political figures, human rights lawyers and former GuantÃ¡namo detainees.
One lecture, Jihad v Terrorism, was billed as “a lecture on the Islamic position with respect to jihad”.
It is worth noting amid Abdulmutallab’s involvement in events like this that he had sought advice on when it is permissible to deceive non-Muslims.
Security sources are concerned that the picture emerging of his undergraduate years suggests that he was recruited by al-Qaeda in London. Security sources said that Islamist radicalisation was rife on university campuses, especially in London, and that college authorities had “a patchy record in facing up to the problem”. Previous anti-terrorist inquiries have uncovered evidence of extremists using political meetings and religious study circles to identify potential recruits.
It emerged last night that Mr Abdulmutallab featured on the periphery of one counterterrorism intelligence operation in Britain. US intelligence authorities are also looking at conversations between him and at least one al-Qaeda member.
The event he organised took place in January 2007 and included talks on GuantÃ¡namo Bay, the alleged torture of prisoners and the War on Terror.
He is the fourth president of a London student Islamic society to face terrorist charges in three years. One is facing a retrial on charges that he was involved in the 2006 liquid bomb plot to blow up airliners. Two others have been convicted of terrorist offences since 2007.
Mr Abdulmutallab left UCL last year. The Times has learnt that his attempt to renew his student visa in May this year was based on an application to study “life coaching” at a non-existent college. That visa refusal may have saved Britain from an attack. His terrorist training took a new turn in August when he moved to Yemen, ostensibly to study Arabic, and was schooled by al-Qaeda there…