Shortly after he tried to bring down flight 253 to Detroit on Christmas Day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab became the fourth former head of a British university Islamic Society (ISOC) to have been charged with a serious terrorism offense. This is only the tip of the problem. Shaming as it is, during his time studying at University College London (UCL), Abdulmutallab was in the most conducive environment an Islamic extremist could inhabit outside Waziristan.
It is a situation that has come about despite repeated warnings. And I should know, because I've been one of the people trying to do the warning.
The results are often surreal. Just before Christmas, the al Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki was the subject of an airstrike on his Yemen home that killed many al Qaeda operatives. Only last April my organization was trying to explain to London's City University why he was not a suitable person to address, by video-link, their Islamic Society. Despite already having been known to be spiritual mentor to two of the 9/11 hijackers, he has been advertised as the "distinguished guest" speaker at the U.K.'s Federation of Student Islamic Societies' (FOSIS) annual dinner in 2003, and at Westminster University in 2006. Awlaki is now thought to be the connection between Abdumutallab and the people who gave him the bomb with which he intended to bring down the Detroit flight.
A year and a half ago the think tank I head in London released "Islam on Campus." The reasons for commissioning the report struck me as obvious: The list of Muslim students from the U.K. who had become active in Islamist terrorism was substantial and growing.