New report details student terrorism convictions

Yesterday’s publication of a new Henry Jackson Society report detailing all Islamist terrorism convictions in the UK between 1998 and 2015 provides the most comprehensive overview of the threat posed by Islamism-inspired terrorism to the UK.

In its profiles of 258 individuals convicted of offences, ‘Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offences and Attacks in the UK (1998-2015)’ includes a number of students, with 33 people enrolled in full-time education at the time of their arrest.

Meanwhile, the report also found that the education sector was relevant in 15% of offences, either as a result of:

“…the role educational institutions played in the offender’s engagement with extremism or the facilitation of offending, or the fact that concerns had previously been raised within the sector about the offender’s behaviour which indicated engagement with extremism.”

Here at Student Rights, we have highlighted a number of cases over the past few years which appear in the report.

These have included David Souaan, a student at Birkbeck arrested in May 2014 before he could board a flight to Serbia and convicted for preparing acts of terrorism in relation to his intention to travel to Syria.

Souaan was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in February 2015 and was described as an ““emotionally immature and naïve man” who was vulnerable because of the “loneliness and isolation” he felt as a foreign student in London.”

Another example is Yahya Rashid, a student at Middlesex University, convicted in November 2015 for preparing to commit acts of terrorism in relation to planned travel to Syria to join Islamic State and sentenced to five years in prison.

The report’s coverage ends in 2015, and so does not include more recent examples of students who have been convicted of terrorism offences, including Suhaib Majeed, a student at Kings College London (KCL) sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to murder in April 2016.

Most recently, Cubedya Jama, a student at Middlesex University, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in July 2016 after attempting to travel to Syria in February 2016.

These cases, and the report’s wider findings, illustrate the necessity for universities to remain vigilant when it comes to extremism on campus, and the importance of the counter-radicalisation safeguarding mechanisms developed as part of the Prevent strategy.

They are also a further reminder that the myths and misconceptions about Prevent propagated by groups such as the National Union of Students, CAGE and other advocacy groups need to be robustly challenged if counter-radicalisation efforts are to be a success.

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