As disturbing as the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt on a Northwest airlines flight has been for Americans, Britons are coming to terms with the bomber's radicalization while a student in London.
In a Wall Street Journal column Friday, Douglas Murray recounts how those who sounded alarm bells were dismissed and belittled. Murray, director of London's Centre for Social Cohesion, ranks highly among those trying to heard.
Umar Farouk Abdullah, the Nigerian who tried to ignite a bomb on Northwest flight 253, led the Islamic Society while a student at University College of London. Three of his predecessors have been charged with terrorist crimes, Murray notes. Others, like Abdulmuttalab, have executed attacks.
"It was a graduate of the London School of Economics who kidnapped and beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. It was two undergraduates from Kings College London who carried out a suicide bombing in a bar in Tel Aviv the following year.
But as the list of British students turning to terrorism grew, so did the denial that there was anything wrong."
Murray has noted the frequent invitation to speak on campuses to Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni cleric considered an inspiration to jihadists, and others who advocate violent jihad. His center commissioned a poll in 2008 which found a third of Muslim students justified killing in the name of their religion – a figure nearly doubled among Islamic Society members. Other results showed strong support for the imposition of religious law.
We've seen similar denial in the U.S. and we have no shortage of radical student union activity. The disappearance of five Washington, D.C.-area college students, who turned up in Pakistan last month hoping to join the jihad against American troops, should demonstrate that we should not follow the indulgent approach.