Moral Outrage
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Former MI5 Chief testifies Iraq War increased the terrorist threat

The war in Iraq led to a huge increase in the terrorist threat to the UK, the former head of MI5 has told the Iraq Inquiry. Baroness Manningham-Buller added that the decision to remove Saddam Hussein had caused a “long-term major and strategic problem” for Britain by allowing al-Qaeda time to build a stronghold in Afghanistan unopposed.

She  also told the inquiry: “Our involvement in Iraq radicalized, for want of a better word, a whole generation of young people … who saw our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as being an attack on Islam…  Arguably we gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad so that he was able to move into Iraq in a way that he was not before.”

The inquiry chairman, Sir John Chilcot, released a memo written by Baroness Manningham-Buller in March 2002, in which she warned the Government that declaring war on Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK. The note made clear that MI5 did not regard Iraq as a significant terrorist threat to British interests before the war, and had discounted any link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks on the US.

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One Response to “Former MI5 Chief testifies Iraq War increased the terrorist threat”

  1. The words of former M15 head are in stark contrast to the claim that former Prime Minister Tony Blair made in front of the same inquiry on 29 January. The former prime minister told Sir John Chilcot: “If I am asked whether I believe we are safer, more secure, that Iraq is better, that our own security is better, with Saddam and his two sons out of office and out of power, I believe indeed we are. It was better to deal with this threat, to remove him from office, and I do genuinely believe that the world is safer as a result.”

    Lord Carlile of Berriew, a Liberal Democrat peer who has acted since 2005 as the independent reviewer of anti-terror laws, told The Independent: “It’s certainly the case that the threat and number of home-grown terrorists – and ‘not home-grown’ terrorists coming into the UK – increased after the Iraq war.”

    Sir Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, added: “I should be astonished if Mr Blair were to return to give further evidence, but questions will remain as to what it was which prompted him to disregard the reservations of officials and their advice. If only Britain had been as well served by its politicians as it was by [the head of M15] Eliza Manningham-Buller then we would never have got ourselves into the illegal mess of Iraq.”

    Lord West, who was counter-terrorism minister in the Home Office under Gordon Brown, similarly told the BBC that he had “no doubt” that the Iraq war increased the threat of terrorism in the UK, which hit the government like a “bow wave” in 2003.


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