Written by Student Rights on 29 May 2012 at 7pm

Daily Express: Islamic extremists target UK students on social networks


By Anil Dawar

28th May 2012

Muslim extremists are using social networking sites to radicalise British students, research has revealed.

Chilling videos of armed insurgents, accompanied by hate-filled speeches from leading Al Qaeda figures, have been posted on websites linked to Islamic societies at several leading universities.

The use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread propaganda and recruit fresh activists marks a new phase in the rise of radical Islam in Britain.

Rupert Sutton, co-author of a report, Challenging Extremists, published today by campaign groups The Henry Jackson Society and Student Rights, uncovered the online use of propaganda.

He said: “The attempted radicalisation of students over the internet, predominantly via social media, is deeply concerning.

“We were able to uncover large amounts of shocking material targeting students and in many cases, shared by students themselves.”

Researchers studied publicly accessible websites run by student societies across the country between November last year and last month.

They discovered violent and radical videos posted on the University of Westminster’s Islamic Society Facebook page, including one featuring a sermon by Anwar al-Awlaki – the spiritual leader of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula who was killed last year in the Yemen.

The report found students from University College London, University of Westminster, Kingston University and Queen Mary, University of London distributing and promoting the work of Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee through Twitter and Facebook.

Both organisations are on the National Union of Students “no platform” list of groups banned from speaking at university events.

Some of the material could breach existing counter-terror legislation and promote groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned from operating on campuses by the National Union of Students, Mr Sutton said.

“We would encourage universities and student unions to heed the revelations in this report to tackle Islamist-inspired extremism while still effectively protecting fundamental freedoms on British campuses,” he added.

There are more than 90,000 Muslims among Britain’s 2.3 million students in higher education and their radicalisation has been a growing problem since the 1990s.