By Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) - A Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner was not radicalized during his days as a student in Britain, a report on Friday said, challenging suggestions he was recruited on campus.
The attack on Christmas Day 2009 stirred fears that a new generation of UK militants had emerged through private networks and campus debating societies rather than high-profile mosques.
The study by a panel established by University College London (UCL) found that conditions at the university were not to blame for the radicalization of former student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, charged with trying to down a flight from Amsterdam as it approached Detroit.
But it called for better vetting procedures for visiting speakers at UCL and enhanced staff training to deal with cases of students where there was cause for concern.
Rshad al-Alimi, Yemen's Deputy Prime Minister for Defense and Security, said on January 7 Abdulmutallab had been recruited by al Qaeda in Britain, where he studied from 2005-08 at UCL and became president of the student Islamic Society.
And media reports suggested British security services had known three years earlier that he had been "reaching out" to extremists and had passed a file to their U.S. counterparts on Abdulmutallab's activities while he was a student at UCL.
However the review by the panel, made of figures from outside UCL whom the university described as independent, said:
"In the light of the investigations it has carried out, the panel concludes that there is no evidence to suggest either that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was radicalized while a student at UCL or that conditions at UCL during that time or subsequently are conducive to the radicalization of students."
Abdulmutallab was a keen soccer player and had been a quiet, well-spoken, affable student, the report said. His fellow students had professed astonishment at his alleged involvement in the Christmas Day incident.
Abdulmutallab was the third UCL student to have been charged with terrorism offences. Chemical engineering graduate Samar Alami was convicted of detonating a car bomb outside the Israeli Embassy in London in 1994.
Mohammed Abushamma, who was arrested before starting a Natural Sciences course in 2008, pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism and was jailed the following year.
UCL said it would be reviewing its practices.
"In sections of the media it was implied or stated that UCL was in some sense complicit in what happened," said Stephen Wall, chairman of the UCL Council.
"The review panel have tested such claims thoroughly as set out in their report, and I hope that their work will serve to alleviate some of the more outlandish claims that have been made."
(Editing by William Maclean and Andrew Roche)