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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UK warned Iraq war would radicalise Muslims

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Jan 21, IRNA -- Intelligence chiefs warned that Britain would become a priority target for al-Qaida and that Muslims in the UK would be radicalised if the country joined the US in invading Iraq, the Iraq inquiry has been told.

The government's former top security adviser Sir David Omand said repeated warnings about the increasing threat to Britain came from the joint intelligence committee (JIC) in the months leading up to the 2003 invasion.

A year before the invasion, in March 2002, the domestic security service, MI5, warned that if Britain took part, "UK interests would be a higher priority target for terrorists," said Omand, who was a JIC member.

From October 2002 the JIC was warning that al-Qaida would use an invasion as a justification for terrorist attacks, an argument that would attract widespread support among Muslims, he told the inquiry.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, the government's former security and intelligence coordinator also said the JIC warned that the terrorist network might establish sleeper cells in Iraq.

He said Britain should have stepped back from going to war in January 2003 when UN weapons inspectors reported that they found no evidence in Iraq of a continuing WMD programs.

Omand revealed that the JIC did not look again at the intelligence claims, and was not asked to do so by ministers. "We assumed an invasion was inevitable," he said.

As a consequence, the JIC warned by October 2004 that up to 50 people from the UK had "attempted to get to Iraq to join jihadist factions".

He confirmed that the deteriorating security situation in Iraq had a direct impact on ‘jihadist’ activity in Britain.

The former security coordinator also criticised the way the government's now discredited dossier on Iraqi weapons program was produced to "make a case" for military action, saying it was a "big mistake".

Former prime minister Tony Blair should not have been allowed to say in the dossier's foreword that intelligence had shown "beyond doubt" that Iraq had WMD even though he was convinced his claim was accurate, he said.

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End News / IRNA / News Code 910842



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