Last week saw the publication of thousands of Islamic State (IS) documents reveal the name of another student from the University of Westminster who had travelled to Syria to fight alongside the terrorist group.
The Telegraph has reported that the files include the details of 18 year old Mohammed Jackir Ali, who dropped out of his law degree in 2013 to become an IS “suicide bomber and fighter”.
Two months after travelling to Syria, Ali was killed near the Turkish border alongside eight people, possibly in a suicide attack.
The police found photos of his dead body on social media and notified his parents.
The University of Westminster has been linked to extremists in the past, and last year the IS executioner ‘Jihadi John’ was revealed to be University of Westminster graduate Mohammed Emwazi.
Student Rights has raised concerns about extremists operating at the university on a number of occasions, including the presence of extreme speakers, and extremist material being shared with students.
This record is highlighted by the fact that, while Ali was at the university, the Islamic Society hosted a charity dinner featuring Haitham Al-Haddad.
Recently, the situation has improved and we have welcomed Vice-Chancellor Professor Geoff Petts’ efforts to ensure extremist narratives are challenged in open debate.
However, the problem of radicalisation is not confined to Westminster, and Student Rights has documented several students who have travelled to fight in Syria while enrolled at a UK university.
In March 2014, Rashed Amani, a Business Studies student at Coventry University, travelled to Syria with Ali Kalantar, an 18 year old who had not yet started at the university.
Both were killed in action in December 2014.
More recently, Zubair Nur reportedly travelled to Syria in March 2015 after it emerged Royal Holloway University had contacted his parents to inform them he had not attended lectures since January.
Mohammed Jackir Ali’s appearance in IS’s files and unfortunate fate in Syria is a reminder that we must remain vigilant to the threat the jihadist group’s poisonous narrative can have on the minds of young people.
Universities are responsible for their students’ welfare and should ensure that campuses aren’t places where extreme ideas can flourish without challenge.
The failure to do so can have tragic consequences, not only for those threatened by groups like IS, but also for the individuals whose lives are wasted at such a young age.