London university where alleged airline attacker studied denies he was radicalized there

Thursday, October 7, 2010

UK university says it didn’t radicalize bomber

LONDON — A Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up an international flight above the United States did not become radicalized during his years as an undergraduate in London, the university where he studied said Thursday.

The University of London said an extensive investigation found no evidence that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly tried to bomb a U.S. airliner last Christmas Day using explosives hidden in his underwear, was recruited by terrorist groups while he lived and studied in London.

Abdulmutallab, 24, was an undergraduate student at UCL from 2005 to 2008. He served in 2007 as president of the student Islamic Society, which some media and security experts suggest has a hardline reputation.

The Nigerian is charged by the U.S. federal court with attempting to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 with 278 passengers and 11 crew members aboard. Abdulmutallab is representing himself, but a judge has appointed a standby lawyer to assist him.

U.S. investigators have said Abdulmutallab told them he received training and instructions from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen.

UCL said it found no conditions on campus during Abdulmutallabl’s time there that led to his engaging in terrorist acts. Nor is there evidence that there are any conditions that will encourage its students to take up extremist views today, the university said.

The inquiry, led by Fiona Caldicott, the principal of Oxford University’s Somerville College, interviewed UCL students and staff and looked at a range of documents.

Caldicott recommended that the university strengthen procedures in screening prospective visiting speakers and report issues of concern about students.

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