The latest airline bomb plot terrorist had British connections, but was denied a second student visa.
Terror plot bomber Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, born to a wealthy family in Nigeria, was allegedly showing signs of extremist views when he was granted a student visa to study mechanical engineering at University College London in 2005, the Telegraph reports.
Upon completing his studies in 2008 he travelled to the Middle East before applying to return to the UK in May for another six month course.
However, his request was refused by officials from the UK Borders Agency as he was attempting to enrol on a course being offered by an institution on the Government’s list of bogus colleges.
The media has been critical of the rising number of students entering the UK, which has seen more than one and a half million visas granted to overseas students during the last eight years.
Earlier this year a report by the Home Affairs Select Committee criticised the Government for failing to deal adequately with the explosion in bogus colleges springing up across the UK.
In March tighter restrictions were introduced under Tier 4 of the Points Based system cutting the number of institutions allowed to recruit students from outside the UK.
Around 3,000 educational institutions across the UK have been granted licenses under the points based system but there are only 62 officials employed to vet the colleges and their 13,500 employees say critics.
Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migrationwatch has also been deeply critical of the system which he said provided a “gaping hole” in our immigration system.
He said: “We now issue 370,000 student visas a year – almost the entire population of Bristol or Manchester – yet hardly any of the applicants ever see hide nor hair of an Immigration Officer.”
There is also widespread concern that many legitimate universities and colleges are providing fertile recruiting grounds for radical Islamic preachers and banned groups.
Radicalisation among students has been a problem since the 1990s, with many of those involved in terror plots being highly educated graduates.
Three of the July 7 bombers attended university as did most of the gang which planned a fertiliser bomb attack on the Bluewater shopping centre and the Ministry of Sound nightclub.
Ahmed Omar Sheikh, convicted of the kidnap and murder of the journalist Daniel Pearl, was a former student at London School of Economics, and Waseem Mughal, convicted of running a website for al-Qaeda in Iraq, was a former biochemistry student at Leicester University.
Mughal was a member of the university Islamic society, and the fertiliser bomber Jawad Akbar attended Islamic society meetings at Brunel University, while Yassin Nassari, convicted of smuggling plans for a Qassam rocket into Britain, was president of the University of Westminster’s Islamic society at its Harrow campus in Northwest London.
The gang convicted of the plot to bring down transatlantic airliners in 2006 are also believed to have engaged in radical activities while at university.
Ringleader Abdulla Ahmed Ali, became radicalised as a teenager in East London, later completing a degree in computer systems engineering at City University.
Immigration Matters Comment
If the critics get their way we would be in danger of throwing out the baby with the bath water.
The ‘baby’ in question, fee paying overseas students, are worth over 8 billion to the UK economy according to Home Office figures, and British education is still a respected ‘brand’ all over the world.
The new Tier 4 system, which is still being implemented, has already substantially reduced the number of colleges not providing adequate educational services in the first six months of operation, and should be given time to ‘bed in’.
The suggestion that the UK Border Agency is doing little to clamp down on rouge colleges is simply not true. Thousands of colleges have either not met the new higher standards required for inclusion on the Tier 4 Sponsors Register or had licenses withdrawn.
In addition, renewing a student visa is no longer a formality and for anyone granted permission as a student after the 5th October changing educational providers will require a new student visa.
As a trading nation with a service based economy the UK welcomes 30 million tourists, thousands of business visitors, students, sports people, religious ministers, youth exchange groups and workers brought in to fill skill shortages.
It is impossible to prevent undesirables’ slipping through the net unless Britain closes its doors altogether.
It should be remembered that there are easier ways of entering the UK than under a student visa.
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