More scaremongering over ISOCs and al-Qa’ida

Following the nonsense in the Daily Mail from Melanie Phillips (last entry) on Monday, there is a front-page story in the Times this morning claiming that the guy who tried to bomb the plane to Detroit last week had been groomed by al-Qa’ida in London. The “proof” is that he was president of the Islamic Society (ISOC) at his college, University College, London (UCL), in January 2007 when they organised a series of talks entitled “War on Terror Week” featuring Asim Qureshi, Moazzam Begg, Martin Mubanga, George Galloway, human rights lawyer Geoffrey Bindman and Victoria Brittain.

Seriously, the story does not give a single piece of evidence to back up their headline. Apart from that, they mention that this man “featured on the periphery of one counterterrorism intelligence operation in Britain” and that the “US intelligence authorities” (which ones?) were interested in conversations he had with “at least one al-Qa’ida member”. As for the ISoc talk, another story claims that neither Galloway nor Bindman in fact attended. They also claim that he “attended some of the radical meetings held at London colleges and mosques”, including those held by Anwar al-Awlaki. However, regardless of his views on jihad, al-Awlaki spoke on matters far more diverse than that; his best-known material is on biographies of the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and the Sahaba. This does not prove that he was recruited for al-Qa’ida there.

Oh, and he used to wear a white robe and a skullcap. Very incriminating.

It still seems that they are scrabbling around trying to find a British connection to this attack, which involved someone who left the UK 18 months ago. There are a whole host of references to posts he made on Islamic Forum (gawaher.com), but that forum is not just used by “radicals” but by Muslims of all persuasions. There are continual references, such as by Stephen Pollard in the Daily Express, to mosques bringing in preachers from Saudi Arabia who are hostile to non-Muslims, but since the institutions and preachers involved all condemn terrorism, it is an entirely separate, if legitimate, issue. The flimsy proof they have for the claims that Umar Farook was radicalised in London gives weight to the suspicion that this attack had nothing to do with the UK.

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