Islamism,  Terrorism

SO15 and UCL

Here is some news about University College London and the investigation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber and former president of the university’s Islamic student society:

Anti terror police have told the University College London (UCL) Islamic Society (ISoc) that they would share their database of members with other intelligence agency if they were requested to do so.

The database, including addresses and telephone numbers, was obtained by officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorist Command (SO15) from UCL Students Union after President of the ISoc, Abdul Mojeed Adams-Mogaji, refused to hand over the details.

SO15 officers first met with Mojeed Adams-Mogaji and Vice President of the Federation of Students Islamic Societies (FOSIS), Rashid Ansari, together with Solicitor Gareth Pierce on January 4. During this meeting, the ISoc President was asked about his relationship with Abdulmutallab and information about him, but he said they met only on a few occasions and he did not know him much. But when SO15 asked for the database of members of UCL ISoc from 2005 to 2008, he said he was unable to provide membership details due to Data Protection Act and that the information could only be handed over a court order.

So SO15 tried its luck with the student union:

The police were more successful when they contacted the UCL Students Union who released not only the email addresses but also the address and telephone numbers of the Muslim students. According to the former President of UCL ISoc, Qasim Rafiq, the Union not only released the database of the 800 members of the ISoc but also of, RUMS ISoc (ISoc Medical Society). In addition, Rafiq said that the database of members of UCL ISoc members was also given for 2008/09, a year after Abdulmuttalab had left the University.

This information came to light during a meeting on January 13 between ISoc, FOSIS, members of the Students Union and officers from SO15. “We were told [by the Student’s Union officer] that they had not only passed on the contact details of the ISoc members but also of RUMS Islamic Society members, thus making it clear they provided more information than necessary,” Rafiq told The Muslim News.

Like Qasim Rafiq, who is now media spokesman at FOSIS, the ISOC is not best pleased:

The UCL ISoc has demanded an explanation from the Students Union as to why they gave membership details for an extra year as well as providing the RUMS Islamic Society database.

The union says it did what was required, even though it was “reluctant”. For the union, helping the investigation of an attempted mass murder by al Qaeda created “obvious problems… around victimisation of Muslim students” as well as data protection:

After handing over the lists, the Students Union emailed to all the Muslim students whose names were given to SO15 explaining what they had done, a copy of which was seen by The Muslim News. “UCL Union was contacted by the Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorist Command (SO15) asking for the names of those who had joined the Islamic Society between 2005 and 2008. Initially, we at the UCL Union were reluctant to release these details for reasons related to the obvious problems around data protection and around victimisation of Muslim students, but we were then presented with documentation that effectively removed the constraints of the Data Protection Act.”

At least the information was handed over.

So, did police officers present the same request and documentation to the union as the ISOC?

If they did, why on earth did the ISOC refuse to co-operate with the investigators of a most serious crime?

Oh well, never mind, Malcolm Grant, provost of UCL, knows better:

“We must continue to regard students as adults. We must of course ensure that universities are not converted into hotbeds of radicalisation. But this is a long way from reality. There has been so much hyperbole and hysteria whipped up around this.”

This is how Grant demonstrated his own vise-like grip on the reality of terrorism six days after the attempted attack over Detroit:

What induced this behaviour remains a mystery. He has not emerged from a background of deprivation and poverty. He came from one of Nigeria’s wealthiest families. He was privately educated, and to a high level. He gained admission to University College London, where he studied mechanical engineering with business finance between 2005 and 2008, and was president of the UCL student Islamic Society in 2006-07.

The events of Christmas Day came as a complete shock to the UCL community. Those who taught him have described him as a well-mannered, quietly spoken, polite and able young man

Money, education, manners, why, he’s one of us! How can this be?

Here is an announcement from UCL:

Professor Grant is also chairing a working group established by Universities UK to look at how universities can best protect academic freedom whilst taking appropriate action to prevent violent extremism.

I trust SO15 enjoys a bit of dark humour now and again.