Four years ago, on Christmas Day, a young Muslim who had recently finished his studies at a British university tried to blow up a plane over Detroit. Had Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab's plan succeeded, he would have killed all the people on the trans-continental plane he was on, and many more on the ground below. Fortunately Abdulmutallab's bomb failed to go off properly and, in what must be an undesirable outcome for even the most committed jihadi, he succeeded only in setting fire to his genitals.
One of the more technically notable facts about the would-be Detroit bomber is that he had recently been the head of the Islamic Society at University College London. Some of us had warned for some time that Islamic societies at British university campuses in general, and London campuses in particular, had become hotbeds of Islamic extremism. We had been criticized for doing so, but the facts were behind us.
What was educational for those of us who saw the post-Detroit cover-up was that it began with denial and ended with a whitewash. UCL's President (one Malcolm Grant) persistently went onto the media to declare that there was nothing to see here. So what that Abdulmutallab had organized extremist events repeatedly on the UCL campus? So what that outside figures as well as other students had expressed their concerns about this? So what that this former student had almost succeeded in carrying out an act of terrorism? Professor Grant and his colleagues insisted that there was nothing to see at UCL.