Written by Student Rights on 3 August 2012 at 11am

Dr Aafia Siddique and the University of Westminster (Update: Video also shared at Warwick, Bradford and Sheffield Hallam Universities)

UPDATE: Student Rights have also been informed by students that this video has recently been shared with students at Sheffield Hallam University. 

UPDATE: Since writing this article Student Rights have found the video of Aafia Siddique’s speech on two other Islamic Society Facebook pages, at the University of Bradford and Warwick University.

In the case of the University of Bradford the video was shared with a message which included the statement that “...only a few in this Ummah work hard to save this sister, but Islam will save her or give her jannah al firdous [highest level of paradise]. This is why we should work hard non-stop to re-establish the Khilafah so crimes such as this can be delt [sic] with if unsolved and stop further crimes continuing. May Allah curse the US government for all the crimes they have done”.

Here at Student Rights we have written about the University of Westminster Global Ideas Society in the past, most notably when they invited the senior Hizb ut-Tahrir member Jamal Harwood to speak at the university.

The Society also featured in our recent report ‘Challenging Extremists’ as a senior member frequently shared Hizb ut-Tahrir material via both the group’s and his personal social media pages.

Earlier this week Student Rights found that an individual had shared a video on the Facebook page of the Global Ideas Society which featured a speech given by the convicted Al-Qaeda facilitator Dr Aafia Siddique in 1991.

Sentenced to 86 years for the attempted murder of several US government officials during her interrogation in Afghanistan, Siddique has a history of links to Islamism-inspired terrorism, including raising money for Maktab Al-Khitmet, the precursor organisation to Al-Qaeda.

She was also married to Ammar al-Baluchi, a senior member of Al-Qaeda now in Guantanamo Bay and the nephew of the 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

During their relationship she moved back to Pakistan and is believed to have been involved in a plot to smuggle explosives into the US.

Throughout her trial Siddique also made a number of anti-Semitic statements, telling one FBI official who interviewed her that “America is under the control of the Jewish authorities” and that she had been imprisoned “because of the Jews”.

She also wrote to the court that Jews are “cruel, ungrateful, back-stabbing people” and that “they masterminded 9/11, and I have proof of that...there are attacks being planned against America, big wars being planned, and they are involved in it”.

In the speech posted on the Facebook page, filmed many years before her arrest, a fresh-faced Siddique begins by telling her audience about the importance of women’s rights in Islam, something that suits the popular narrative of an idealistic young women wrongfully imprisoned by the West. 

However, she also states that “We have lost the respect and dignity we enjoyed, we are apologetic and submissive, and to whom? To the disbelievers, the kuffar”, exposing some of the intolerance which later surfaced as violent extremism.  

The sharing of videos featuring extremists like Siddique with students at the University of Westminster is also something that Student Rights have catalogued in the past.

In our report we uncovered a number of videos that featured the speeches of the Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, as well as photographs of insurgent fighters and jihadist ideologues.

Another video, shared with the Islamic Society at the university, was of a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan called Abu Ibrahim, listed by the US government in January 2012 as a Specially Designated Terrorist Individual.

That the social media pages of student societies continue to be targeted by external individuals to share material of this nature is deeply concerning and should be a further incentive for university authorities to work alongside their students to challenge extremism.

Addressing this issue must be a student-led process and we would urge both the university and Student Union to encourage both greater awareness and a civic intolerance of the way in which extremists operate.