Welcome to the Terrordome: London Uni Radicals

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 12/29/2009 09:31:00 AM
[NOTE: I encourage you to cue the eponymous Public Enemy track before reading on.] Perhaps it's in the air; perhaps it's in the water. Whatever the reason, "Londonistan" remains a powerful draw for extremists seeking an education with a side helping of overthrowing the powers-that-be. I, of course, was reminded of this when the perpetrator of the attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound flight, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was alleged to be a mechanical engineering graduate from UCL (University College London). Fortunately for the passengers of Northwest Flight 253, he wasn't a chemical engineering student, but his attempt was very inept in any case. I don't know him personally, but you can bet I hate his guts since I am 100% certain that us long haul passengers will be harassed even more than usual when I return to London after the holiday season.

A few weeks ago, I discussed how our more radical students decided to twin the LSE with the Islamic University of Gaza. I like to think of the LSE in particular and other University of London institutions as the real-life equivalents of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter telenovelas. Sure they graduate Harry Potters, but they also churn out Lord Voldemorts. For better or worse, our students are exposed to any number of influences at an impressionable young age in what is arguably the world's capital. Yes, our student crazies are more cosmopolitan in outlook. Look at foreign students gone mad in America: Gang Lu from China only massacred folks at the University of Iowa, while Seung-Hui Cho from Korea did the same at Virginia Tech. In other words, they simply imbibed the local culture of violence in righting perceived wrongs the American way by "going postal."

Thankfully, British imported crazies don't usually vent their anger on pissant faculty and the like. No, they have discovered ideology and prefer to vent their anger on the wider world. Honestly, I was surprised that the failed Detroit bomber hailed from UCL. If you ask me, while the majority of the University of London institutions lean left, there are gradations. On the hard left you have the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), where you basically learn that nearly everything that's gone wrong in the developing world is the West's fault [dear SOAS faculty, I'm just kidding but you have to question why this stereotype exists]. If you found the LSE students' Gaza stunt revolting, see what sort of thing happens at the SOAS in treating the Israel question.

Meanwhile, UCL doesn't even hold a candle to the LSE in this department. Indeed, if you use Lord Voldemort-as-alumni criteria, this recent pathetic "terror" attempt that's only managed to screw over holiday travellers like yours truly pales in comparison to the LSE's extremist output. When it comes to radicals we'd prefer not to mention, two come to mind--and how.

Venezuelan revolutionary Carlos the Jackal studied at the LSE for a time. Indeed, you can say that he was the very first "celebrity terrorist" of them all. If he's ever released from jail, I'd even say he'd be prime material for Dancing With the Stars or any number of "reality shows." Certainly, he has the name recognition thing going for him. Fathered by a Marxist lawyer and named Ilyich while his younger brothers were christened "Lenin" and "Vladimir," his pinko credentials are nearly as impeccable as Naomi Klein's. While also a master of self-promotion--I don't call him a "celebrity terrorist" for nothing--his list of genuine achievements in the annals of terror are considerable. This, after all, was a guy expelled from Patrice Lumumba University, then the Soviet's training ground for exporting revolution to the unenlightened peoples in the far-flung reaches of this tumultuous world.

Another unsavoury LSE alum is the killer of the American reporter for the Wall Street Journal Daniel Pearl, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. Probably more so than Carlos, this guy was turned into what he is more during his stay in the United Kingdom's capital. Radicalized at the LSE, he returned to Pakistan a full-fledged Islamic militant. More recently, the Times of India wrote that tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks were almost tipped into armed conflict by this not-so-fine fellow by impersonating then-Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee while placing a call to Pakistani President Asif Zardari:
In a shocking disclosure, it has come to light that the hoax caller who tried to spark off a war between India and Pakistan by threatening Pakistani President Asif Zardari pretending to be foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee was British jihadi and Daniel Pearl's killer Omar Sheikh.

Sheikh, currently in Hyderabad jail in Pakistan after being convicted for the the murder of Pearl, the American journalist who was working on an expose of Pak-based terror groups, used a UK registered SIM card to place a call to Zardari, according to a report in Dawn, a Pakistani English daily newspaper. The report also mentions that the London School of Economics-trained jihadi tried to also speak to Mukherjee pretending to be Zardari. Though Sheikh could not get through to Mukherjee, he managed to speak with the chief of Pakistan army, Ashfaq Kiyani.

The hoax call was made in the immediate aftermath of 26/11 when tensions between India and Pakistan ran high. The revelation ties in with the assessment of US agencies that the Mumbai attack was designed to provoke hostilities between the two neighbours so as Pakistan army got an alibi to stop helping US's drive against Taliban.

The deception had caused considerable consternation for the ease with which the caller managed to get through to Zardari as well as for the belief that the man issuing threats was the Indian minister himself...

If the Dawn report is accurate, Sheikh was able to procure and use a western SIM despite being in the dock for a serious and well-publicised crime. He called both Zardari and army chief Ashfaq Kayani after the Mumbai attacks in what is suspected to be an attempt to trigger a showdown between India and Pakistan when tensions were running extremely high.

He called Mukherjee's office saying that he was president of Pakistan but failed to get through to the foreign minister. "Omar Saeed Sheikh was the hoax caller. It was he who threatened the civilian and military leaderships of Pakistan over telephone. And he did so from inside Hyderabad jail,'' said the paper quoting investigators.

After the hoax calls last year, the Pakistani leaders had gone to town claiming that Mukherjee had threatened to strike Pakistan. The newspaper report cited the raid in Hyderabad jail on November 29 in which 12 SIM cards were seized along with mobile phones.
As you've read, Sheikh was able to make these calls while in a Pakistani prison for beheading Pearl. Aside from what this says about the state of the prison system in Pakistan, it certainly demonstrates a devious kind of resourcefulness. So there you have it: Why does this UCL grad get so much attention for hatching a harebrained plot while the LSE has full-blown revolutionaries of an altogether higher caliber? There are many paths you can take in life that intelligence can be applied to; in the pantheon of London uni radicals, this twerp rates pretty low compared to the LSE's. When I'm stuck in some giant security queue at Abu Dhabi International Airport on my way back to London, I'll be sure to wish that the American authorities let me waterboard the cretin for all the hassle he's caused for no good reason.

In any event, Welcome to the Terrordome.