Iraq 'invasion increased UK terror threat'
London, July 21, 2010
Iraq posed little threat to Britain just before the 2003 invasion - but the danger of extremist attacks surged afterwards, a former head of the MI5 security service told an inquiry.
Eliza Manningham-Buller, chief of the domestic intelligence agency from 2002 to 2007, also dismissed any connection between Iraq and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, according to a report in our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News.
She was giving evidence at Britain's public inquiry into the war in Iraq, which has heard from figures including former prime minister Tony Blair, who was in power when the country joined the US-led invasion.
Manningham-Buller said that in 2002, MI5 had advised Blair's government that the "direct threat" from Iraq was "low".
"We did think that Saddam Hussein might resort to terrorism if he thought his regime was toppled but we didn't believe he had the capability to do anything in the UK," she said.
But MI5 "did not foresee" the number of Britons who became involved in extremist plots at home.
"Our involvement in Iraq radicalised a few among a generation - who saw our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as being an attack on Islam," she said.
"There had been an increasing number of British born individuals who were attracted to the ideology of Osama bin Laden and saw the West's activities in Iraq and Afghanistan as threatening their fellow religionists and the Muslim world," she said. – TradeArabia News Service