Written by Student Rights on 12 April 2013 at 3pm

YouTube Channel containing Anwar Al-Awlaki video shared with students

Throughout 2012 Student Rights highlighted the promotion of material featuring violent extremists, including the Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, to students across the UK via social media.

On 6th April, a video called ‘They Buried Me Alive’ was shared with the Facebook group of the University of Sheffield Islamic Circle by a student at the university.

Uploaded to a channel called ‘I ♥ Isʟᴀᴍ, the student encouraged others to watch more of the channel’s videos, stating “theres [sic] many other amazing videos on their channel as well”.

One of these videos is called ‘Advice to the Once [sic] who stay behind’ and features footage of insurgents training and fighting, and a note at the end asking “O Allah, give victory to the Mujahideen everywhere”.

It also includes a short speech by Al-Awlaki in which he states the importance of fighting overseas and says: who have neglected Jihad and stayed away from the path of success, you have put yourself in the position of exclusion from the mercy of Allah”.

He goes on to ask:

Why haven’t you joined the ranks of the Mujahideen? Why are you holding back your soul... the Shaheed is spared of all of this. He does not feel the pain of death, except like the sting of an insect. My brother, why miss out on this opportunity”.

He concludes by telling viewers that:

...there is nothing that compares to jihad. The Messenger of Allah says ‘Standing in the ranks of the army in the battlefield is greater than worshipping Allah among your family for 70 years”.

Roshonara Choudhry, the former King’s College London student who quit her course and attempted to assassinate Stephen Timms MP, declared that she had been radicalised by watching videos of Awlaki online.

In her police interviews she said that “I started to listen to Anwar al-Awlaki lectures last year and then I started to get really into it” and that “he explains things really comprehensively and in an interesting way”.

She also said that she had started watching his videos in November 2009 and by the beginning of May 2010 had finished his back catalogue, carrying out her attack just two weeks later.

With this in mind, the fact that a student is encouraging others to watch a YouTube channel containing such extreme material is deeply concerning, and highlights the ease with which social media can spread such ideas.

Here at Student Rights we hope that the University of Sheffield will discuss this issue with the Islamic Circle, and the student involved in sharing the channel, making clear that using student social media to link to such material is unacceptable.