Oxford University has suspended one of its workers following allegations that the man may have had ties to Islamist terror groups.
The Telegraph reported on Sunday that university administrators ordered the action after learning the “non-academic” employee, whose identity remains private, was arrested on terrorism charges and detained in Italy half a decade ago.
Per the publication, the man was arrested in Italy in March 2012 and detained in the Marche region of the country following an operation by Italian authorities and the Cagliari State Police into Islamic extremism.
The man reportedly converted to Islam after studying Arabic, changed his name, and wanted to travel to Afghanistan to “join the war-fighting formations of the ‘Holy War.’” He is believed to have had a relationship with a Moroccan woman, and was arrested when he attempted to leave the country to go to Rabat, Morocco.
The alleged terrorist, along with others, was reported to be a “major link” between international jihadis and “the Italian network,” a homegrown group of Muslim extremists.
At the time, it was alleged that the individual was involved in spreading extremist propaganda and terrorist training manuals online. Although he denied doing the deed, he spent over two-and-a-half years in several prisons. Upon his release in 2014, he subsequently moved to England and landed a job at Oxford University.
The man reportedly sent emails containing links to would-be jihadis to download operational manuals on how to execute terror “attacks and guerrilla techniques.”
On Saturday, the university confirmed it had immediately called the Thames Valley Police when senior staff members learned of his history earlier in October. The school also ordered an internal investigation into his background.
The university declined to disclose what position the man held, or whether he was in a position to influence students. It is also unclear for how long the man, who is said to be in his mid-30s, had worked for Oxford University or lived in the UK.
The Met police’s Former Assistant Commissioner Helen King, who now heads St. Anne’s College, will be heading a “review” of the case and provide her recommendations to the university’s security committee, which she also leads.