Page last updated at 20:02 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Jet bomb suspect's UK university reviews radicalisation

Photograph of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab supplied by US officials (28 December 2009)
The suspect faces charges including the attempted murder of 290 people

The UK university attended by the Detroit plane bomb suspect is to look into whether conditions there could have contributed to his radicalisation.

University College London has launched an independent review of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's time as a student.

It will also examine how the university has policed visiting speakers, it says.

Born in Nigeria, Mr Abdulmutallab, 23, has pleaded not guilty over the alleged bid to detonate a bomb on a plane as it landed in the US city on 25 December.

Mr Abdulmutallab took an engineering with business finance degree at UCL between September 2005 and June 2008, and was president of its Islamic society between 2006 and 2007.

Campuses are and should be safe homes for controversy, argument and debate. This clearly does not include incitement that could lead to terrorism and murder
Malcolm Grant, UCL provost

Setting out the terms of reference for the review, which had been announced on 31 December, the university said it would explore whether conditions there during Mr Abdulmutallab's time or today might contribute to the radicalisation of students.

UCL provost Malcolm Grant said the university had a duty to "guarantee freedom of speech on campus within the law".

"Campuses are and should be safe homes for controversy, argument and debate," he said. "This clearly does not include incitement that could lead to terrorism and murder."

The review will also look at handling of invited speakers and whether there are lessons to be learned.

Controversial views

Prof Grant said the full facts about the alleged bomber were still being investigated by police and security services, including whether or not his apparent radicalisation occurred during or as a consequence of his time at UCL.

He said the university would act on any recommendations made by the review, which is to be led by Dame Fiona Caldicott, principal of Somerville College, Oxford, and pro-vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford.

It's not our responsibility to nip terrorism in the bud, it's our responsibility to provide a safe and intellectually invigorating environment for student study
Malcolm Grant, UCL provost

In a BBC interview, Prof Grant said UCL would be looking into whether speakers voicing views that went "beyond the law" were among those invited on to campus by the Islamic society while Mr Abdulmutallab was at its helm.

He said: "I've seen the lists of names of some people who were apparently invited and I can't say I'm happy with that list but until we've had a full and independent review it's difficult for me to say whether they fell on one side or the other of that thin line between freedom of speech and incitement to religious hatred or racial hatred."

Prof Grant said the university had no responsibility for what students did off campus or their outside influences and denied that it had "ignored" a problem of radicalisation at UCL.

He said: "We have maintained an appropriate balance, we have maintained an appropriate degree of oversight and supervision and informal discussion at all times with the student faith societies.

"It's not our responsibility to nip terrorism in the bud, it's our responsibility to provide a safe and intellectually invigorating environment for student study."

The first meeting of the review is expected to be held in February.



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