In what seems to be one of the most revealing of testimonies before the Chilcot enquiry, the head of MI5 spells out her fascinating insights into the war. Manningham-Buller has said before that the Iraq war increased the terrorism threat to the UK, but she has now just made the case more powefully than ever.
“Arguably we gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad,” she said, as she revealed that 70 to 80 Britons went to Iraq to join the anti-coalition insurgency having been radicalised by the war.
She said that MI5 had to have its budget doubled after the war because the number of threats was “almost overwhelming”. And, in her final remarks, she accused Tony Blair of placing too much credence on “fragmentary intelligence”.
But the most significant comments may turn out to be the ones that she made about the links between Iraq and terrorist groups wishing to acquire WMD. Blair went to war, not just because he was worried about what Saddam might do with WMD, but because he was concerned about WMD produced by a country like Iraq falling into the hands of the terrorist group prepared to commit mass murder on the scale of 9/11. Manningham-Buller seemed to be saying that this was not much of a threat.
With thanks to the Guardian article of 20.7.10