Extremist website shared with students at University of Manchester (Update: Material also shared with students at Liverpool John Moores University)
Update II: Following yesterday's ban of Millatu Ibrahim by the German government, it is interesting to note that the Facebook page shared with students includes video of this Islamist group, including this tribute to "the lions of Millatu Ibrahim Germany" and a message to the group from Abu Waleed and Shah Jalal Hussein. It has also posted a number of articles referring to the ban.
Update: Since this blog post was published, Student Rights have also found evidence of the same individual sharing similar material with the Islamic Society at Liverpool John Moores University. This included a link to the Millatu Ibrahim Facebook page, as well as a link to Abu Waleed's personal page, used to share and promote videos from the Salafi Media website.
One of the most worrying findings of the recent Student Rights report ‘Challenging extremism: practical frameworks for our universities’ was the way in which external individuals were found to be targeting student society pages on Facebook to spread extremist material.
Since the release of the report, Student Rights has been studying a backlog of social media data and has uncovered further evidence of this behaviour at UK universities.
The most recent and serious example involves the sharing of a link to a Facebook page called ‘Millatu Ibrahim’ with the Islamic Society at the University of Manchester by an individual calling herself ‘Lone Stranger’.
The page is used to post numerous videos and to promote the content of Salafi Media, as well as the activism and lectures of many of the individuals who are featured on the site.
The Facebook page also provides links to the website itself, as well as to three of Salafi Media’s YouTube channels.
Two of these YouTube channels have since been shut down, but one can still be accessed and contains nearly 400 videos of lectures and speeches featuring a number of extreme preachers.
These include Abu Hamza Al-Masri, convicted on six counts of soliciting to murder in 2006, Shah Jalal Hussain, convicted of terrorist fundraising in 2008, and Omar Brooks who was convicted of inciting terrorism overseas in 2008.
There are also a large number of videos featuring Abu Waleed, an individual heavily involved with both Al-Muhajiroun and Al-Ghurabaa before the organisations were proscribed by the British government.
In this case it appears that outwardly there was little support for the post from students frequenting the Islamic Society Facebook page, with no individuals commenting on or ‘liking’ the post as has happened at other universities.
This suggests that students at the University of Manchester are rejecting such ideas, which is an encouraging sign. However, Student Rights have asked the Islamic Society if they had reported the sharing of this material but received no response.
Our new report encourages the sharing of information and co-ordination between institutions across the country.
If the authorities at the University of Manchester were able to share this example with those at other universities, including those where extremist material has also been shared, a better understanding of the way in which social media is being used by extremists could be gained.
For now, the continued sharing of extreme material by outside individuals suggests that more work is needed in this area.