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Written by Student Rights on 13 December 2010 at 4pm

The British terror connections

We won't go through rehashing the story that can be found across many mainstream media outlets today regarding this weekends attempted bombing in Stockholm, Sweden.  Links can be found here, here and here. Instead, we'd like to focus on why the United Kingdom is becoming the prime recruitment and training ground for young Islamists and jihadists

The numbers are growing as outreach from radical element grips student societies like a vice.  And a vice it is. From conclusions thus far, we must fairly conclude that while the Stockholm bomber was actively engaged with jihadist elements, there is not yet hard evidence of collusion on campus for his radicalisation.  We never argue that this is an absolute - but what is crucial to bear in mind is what the University College London called the 'conditions conducive to radicalisation' - most campuses are easily targeted.

Jihadists tend to focus on areas where there is a dense Muslim population, even though most ordinary British Muslim families feel no affiliation to extreme groups, or Islamism as a political ideology.  But extracting individuals from communities, or Friday prayer sessions isn't easy.  There are far too many wiser individuals who could challenge radical recruiters and Islamists.  The political ideology effectively perverts the faith, so they need to catch people younger.  This is where university recruitment comes in.

Students, especially in their first years are susceptible to the pitfalls of peer pressure and the need to 'fit in'.  They're impressionable and angry (as any healthy teenager is) and they, like any of us would, gravitate to places they already feel comfortable - religious, cultural, sporting ties etc are important when people seek to find a friendship group. By propagating intolerant speakers and leveraging societies within campuses to distribute their extremist material, jihadists effectively remove barriers for themselves.  More often than not, the speakers on campuses are low-level regurgitators of fanatic interpretations that have very little theological foundation.  But there's one thing these men can be (for their own reasons, jihadists rarely send females) - devastatingly, emotionally charismatic.

For someone like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, or perhaps the latest attempted murderer, Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, these can be fascinating men.  The psychology behind the susceptibility to radicalisation will tell us much more about these individuals and we're sure these studies will be forthcoming. Currently and reassuringly enough, the BBC are now also reporting that when Abdaly was at the Luton Islamic Centre in 2007, he was exposed by some other members for trying to present a "distorted view" of Islam.  This is the kind of activism needed in British Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

The other extreme however, are knee-jerkish nationalistic, hate-mongering groups like the English Defence League who are attempting to bring over the would-be Koran-burning Pastor Terry Jones from the United States.  This is extremism that cannot and should not be tolerated in this country.  We urge you to sign the petition to ensure this man does not get a chance to shop his hateful message around United Kingdom. An admission of guilt must be forthcoming from all sides.  Universities need to accept they have been lackadaisical on the issue, the Muslim community in Britain must come together and out these extremists and the wider British public must not be dragged asunder by sensationalism and intolerance.  We all have a duty unto one another - it is about time we exercised it.  This is a 'big society' after all, is it not?