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An uncomfortable lesson in jihad

Why did the Christmas day bomber Umar Mutallab try to blow up a plane? Was he radicalised while studying in Britain—and, if so, what should British universities be doing to combat extremism?

By Shiv Malik   February 2010

Earlier this month, a UCL board of inquiry was assembled to determine whether or not Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab—variously know as the “Detroit,” “Christmas,” “Syringe” and “Underwear” bomber—had been radicalised while studying for an engineering degree at the university between 2005 and 2008. So far there is scant evidence that this is the case. But I have had exclusive access to recordings that may suggest otherwise. And if he was indeed radicalised here, how should UCL—and other academic institutions across Britain—respond?

Most of the details reported thus far about Abdulmutallab’s life have centred around his late teenage years in west Africa—in…

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