Isis killer’s former university tops list for ‘extremist’ preachers on campus

PUBLISHED: 06:38 31 July 2015

The University of Westminster's main campus in Marylebone. Picture: Polly Hancock

The University of Westminster's main campus in Marylebone. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

A new report has warned that a “culture conducive” to non-violent extremism has emerged at the former university of Isis killer Mohammed Emwazi - as it tops a list of “worst offenders” for hosting radical preachers.

Isis killer Mohammed Emwazi graduated from the University of Westminster in 2009 Isis killer Mohammed Emwazi graduated from the University of Westminster in 2009

Among those invited onto campus at the University of Westminster were members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which presses for restoration of the caliphate and is banned by the National Union of Students.

The research has led to renewed fears that students are at risk of radicalisation on campus.

Yet our investigation has shown while very real concerns remain, the situation has changed significantly since the time when Isis terrorist Emwazi was a student in 2009.

The research shows:

* Westminster held 25 events involving “extreme or intolerant speakers” from 2012 to 2014, the highest of any university in the country.

* But the number of red-flagged events has fallen significantly in the last 18 months.

* Speakers often appeared unopposed at single platform events and were not exposed “to the oxygen of publicity”.

* The students’ union has launched a ‘Speak Out On Speakers’ survey and is cooperating with an independent panel to improve processes.

Mohammed Emwazi as a student Mohammed Emwazi as a student

The University of Westminster told the Wood&Vale it has a “robust and transparent” external speaker policy.

A spokeswoman said: “We condemn the promotion of radicalisation, terrorism and violence or threats against any member of our community.”

The findings of a new report by Student Rights, a group dedicated to monitoring extremism on university campuses, logged 25 events at the University of Westminster from 2012 to 2014 where “extreme or intolerant speakers” were invited to give lectures - including some who advocate virulent homophobia.

This was the highest number of any university from data gathered across the UK, but the number fell significantly in 2014.

Rupert Sutton, director of Student Rights and author of the report Preventing Prevent? Challenges to Counter-Radicalisation Policy on Campus, said: “There were a significant number of events at Westminster, particularly from the 2012-2013 period, when we believe there was a network of students on campus who were connected to Hizb ut-Tahrir and were inviting speakers on who were promoting themselves to students.”

He said the epicentre of activity was around a group called the Global Ideas Society, which ran a programme of events with speakers “usually from Hizb ut-Tahrir” invited to speak unopposed.

The Global Ideas Society’s Facebook page has not been active since November 2013.

The Islamic Society, an official University of Westminster Students Union (UWSU) society, is also known to have shared violent jihadist videos featuring terrorists on its Facebook page in 2012.

A talk by hate preacher Haitham Al-Haddad, who advocates virulent homophobia, was postponed in February when it became known that Mohammed Emwazi was an ex-student A talk by hate preacher Haitham Al-Haddad, who advocates virulent homophobia, was postponed in February when it became known that Mohammed Emwazi was an ex-student

“University’s often say they are the best place for these extreme ideas to be challenged, to be exposed to the oxygen of publicity,” said Mr Sutton. “But the problem is in this case these speakers weren’t being exposed or challenged.”

Westminster found itself at the centre of intense scrutiny in February this year when it was revealed that Isis beheader Emwazi was a former student.

Another ex-student, Omar Abdur Rehman, was convicted in 2007 of conspiracy to cause explosions in an al-Qaeda linked plot and at the time of his arrest was studying at the University of Westminster.

However the number of events involving speakers with extremist views has fallen significantly in the last 18 months. There were nine events in 2012, 13 in 2013 but only three in 2014.

“Either these students have moved on or the university has become better at challenging extremism,” said Mr Sutton. “But there are still extremist events taking place.”

The University of Westminster says it has been working hard to implement the government’s Prevent strategy to counter radicalisation.

It says it has a “robust and transparent” external speaker policy which event organisers must adhere to.

A spokeswoman said: “We condemn the promotion of radicalisation, terrorism and violence or threats against any member of our community.

“We have strict policies to promote tolerance among our 20,000 student community, who come to study from over 150 nations.”

The students’ union is also publicly engaging with the issue.

A statement on the UWSU website on June 30 about “challenges around external speakers” said the union had a “zero tolerance policy against people or groups found to be engaging in intolerant or discriminatory behaviour”.

The union has also launched a ‘Speak Out On Speakers’ survey to identify how students would like “to handle the sometimes thorny question of where freedom of speech should end” and is cooperating with an independent panel to examine how to improve processes.

The issue is a pressing one as from July 1 this year public bodies, including universities, have a new legal duty to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act.

Student Rights’ has called on universities and student unions to make Prevent training compulsory for elected student union officials and to ensure radical preachers do not speak unopposed at single platform events.

“A lot of university heads understand that this is an issue that they need to deal with, not only in the sense that there are vulnerable students but universities also see this as almost a reputational issue,” said Mr Sutton.

“Nobody wants to be the next university that has a Mohammed Emwazi essentially.”

Who were the speakers invited onto campus at the University of Westminster?


The Palestinian scholar, who is a judge and treasurer for Islamic Sharia Council UK, spoke four times from 2012 to 2014. He has expressed virulent homophobia referring to “the scourge of homosexuality” which he calls a “criminal act”. In February, a talk by al-Haddad was postponed when it became known Mohammed Emwazi was an ex-student. 3,000 students signed a petition calling for al-Haddad to be banned from campus.


The historian and lecturer has worked with the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA), which is currently barred from operating at University College London. He is also a senior member of The Hittin Institute, an Islamist organisation ideologically close to the revolutionary Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. He spoke in April 2013 unopposed by other speakers.


The British Islamist preacher was advertised as speaking alongside al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in 2009 and is a director of The Hittin Institute. He preaches homophobia and has said “We don’t accept homosexuality... we hate it because Allah hates it”. He spoke in March 2012 and March 2014 on both occasions unopposed by other speakers.


The Hizb ut-Tahrir women’s representative spoke at three events from 2013 to 2014 and was most recently on campus at the beginning of this year.


The senior Hizb ut-Tahrir member was hosted by the Global Ideas Society in October and December 2012 at unopposed single platform events.

Latest Hampstead Education News

A Hampstead school table tennis team is going for glory after getting through to the finals of the table tennis national school team championships.

An Archway children’s centre has been rated “outstanding” across the board in its latest Ofsted report.

Fortismere School has appointed two permanent headteachers following a “rigorous selection process”.

A Camden super group has been formed to ensure that “no child gets left behind in Camden”.

The decision to admit girls into UCS Hampstead 10 years ago has been described as “ground-breaking”.

Former La Sainte Union student Eden Lunghy, 18, speaks to the Ham&High about her role as a Camden deputy youth mayor.

“Promoting equality and empowerment” remains at the forefront for an independent school celebrating 100 years since women were first able to exercise their right to vote.

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said the care a school has shown in hosting a play about their ordeal has made a great difference to his jailed wife.

Children at Our Lady of Muswell Primary School were left “stunned” by a surprise visit of Britain’s tallest man.

Pupils are being warned of the dangers of being mugged at home time as they continue to be targeted by teenage gangs.

Hornsey School for Girls has been named as the best performing school for progress in Haringey.

Camden School for Girls has been recognised as the top performing schools for progress in the borough.

The headteacher of St Aloysius College in Archway has been suspended from his post after being arrested on suspicion of fraud.

Highgate Primary School has received a donation of 100 trees to help transform the site into a greener and healthier space.

The future is bright for Hawley Primary School following the official opening of its new building.

Students from Portland Place School have demonstrated their support for anti-bullying by winning first place in the ‘odd socks day challenge’.

A Golders Green school is celebrating after receiving an “outstanding” Ofsted report.

Our Lady of Muswell Hill Primary School is on the up after receiving an upgrade in its Ofsted rating.

A Coldfall Primary School student has been named as the number one ranked under-10s table tennis player in the country.

Greig City Academy students were among dedicated sailors from across the UK who had their endeavours recognised by HRH Princess Anne at the annual Royal Yachting Awards (RYA) ceremony.

Schools have been hard at work in the run up to Christmas to provide as much festive cheer in the community as possible.

There have been some busy elves working away in the run up to Christmas at The Cavendish School.

South Hampstead Junior School pupils have marked 60 years since the school moved into its own separate site at 12 Netherhall Gardens in 1957.

‘The future is bright’ for a crop of Camden youngsters who dazzled judges in a public speaking contest at Regent High School.

Henrietta Barnett School has been named as the UK’s top performing state school in a much-anticipated annual league table released by the Sunday Times.

A success story of one of Archant London’s Student Takeover schemes is encouraging students at City of Westminster College and College of North West London to get involved in a potentially “life-changing” opportunity at the Ham&High.

A young violinist from Archway has described the moment she was accepted into the National Youth Orchestra (NYO) as like “a dream come true”.

A newly-opened redesigned wing at University College School has been dedicated to a headmaster who spent 17 years at the helm in Hampstead.

Camden headteachers have joined forces to highlight the impact of “relentless cuts” in the run-up to Philip Hammond’s budget announcement on Wednesday.

It was packed-out affair at Rokesly Junior School as parents received a lesson on how calmness is key when talking to your children.

Gifted youngsters from across Camden were celebrated at another inspiring Jack Petchey Foundation awards ceremony.

An opportunity of a lifetime has arisen for media-savvy students at City of Westminster College and the College of North West London.

A champion of diversity, a talented dancer and a rising musical star are just three of the youngsters who are set to be recognised at a Camden awards ceremony.

St Anthony’s School for Girls was awash with colour as students celebrated cultures from around the world.

Education editor James Scott speaks to Sarah Creasey about life as headteacher of Parliament Hill School.

“We are not going away,” was the warning shot to politicians in Westminster on Tuesday as parents and students from Haringey and Camden protested against school cuts.

Charitable students at UCS Hampstead have clubbed together to give a mammoth donation to the north Paddington food bank.

Meeting the need for extra school places remains a key priority for Camden, Barnet and Haringey councils, in the face of warnings about a looming shortfall.

Nobody goes to university without knowing they’ll take on debt.

Whizz-kids are giving the older generation a helping hand at Highgate School by running a technology club for ex-students.

The head of English at St Anthony’s School for Boys is a double champion after wining two gold medals at the European Masters Marathon Championships in Poland.

The Mayor of London has been applauded for tackling pollution in Camden after three of the borough’s primary schools were included in the first wave of ‘air quality audits’.

A school expansion has been lauded by Camden Council, despite “teething problems” over travel arrangements around the site.

A tech-savvy Abacus Belsize Park Primary School teacher will be inspiring her pupils this term after spending part of the summer break at a celebrated teaching event in California.

A blogger has been jailed for nine months after harassing parents of children caught up in false allegations of a ‘satanic paedophile ring’ at a Camden school.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

2018 © Archant Community Media Ltd

Terms and conditions | Cookie policy | Jobs at Archant