Extremist Groups Recruiting at UK Schools
The Times Higher Education Supplement has a piece about radical Islamic recruitment efforts at British universities: Extremist groups set to recruit freshmen.
Universities have been warned this week that Islamist extremists are likely to target freshers fairs looking for recruits, fuelling accusations that politically correct academics are burying their heads in the sand about terrorism.
Shiraz Maher, who joined the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir while studying at Leeds University but later renounced his membership, told The Times Higher that universities were “bread-and-butter” recruiting grounds for extremist groups.
He said: “If you go to freshers fairs at University College London, the School of Oriental and African Studies and the London School of Economics next month, you will find Hizb ut-Tahrir undercover. Vice-chancellors have been wilfully blind to the problem. Recruitment of students is going on. That is categorical. Universities are not on top of this.”
Bernie Taffs, head of security at the LSE, said that during freshers week last year he called the police after seeing extremist Islamist groups giving out leaflets and putting up posters.
Bill Durodie, senior lecturer in risk and security at Cranfield University, agreed that freshers fairs could be a target. He said: “The worry is that students might find a paucity of other groups offering coherent arguments.”
Michael Clarke, director of the International Policy Institute at King’s College London, said: “People are tiptoeing around issues by trying to be politically correct. We don’t want to be heavy-handed in terms of surveillance at universities, but we also have to establish boundaries.”
David Capitanchik, honorary senior lecturer in politics at Aberdeen University, said that three radical Islamic groups - Hizb ut-Tahrir, Al-Muhajiroun and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK - were targeting British universities.
He said: “I would say that these organisations have perfected the art of running rings round universities’ very loose oversight mechanisms. Hence, the great concern among the UK’s security services.”
(The reference to “Al Muhajiroun” is odd here; they were supposedly disbanded earlier this year.)