Britain’s National Security Experts: Threat of Terrorism Increased As a Result Of War In Iraq


Early this morning, British police “discovered an explosive device in a car laden with gasoline, nails, and gas canisters” in central London. British authorities have not said who may be responsible for the attempted attack, but Jacqui Smith, Britian’s new homeland secretary, characterized the incident as attempted “international terrorism.” The BBC noted that the timing may be significant as the incident comes as “the second anniversary of the 7 July bombings approach[es].”

Despite counterterrorism officials having “no prior intelligence information indicating” this attack might be imminent, Britain’s increased risk of “international terrorism” has long been attributed to British involvement in the war in Iraq by numerous national security experts:

Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament:

Britons are more – not less – likely to be the target of terrorist attacks as a result of the war in Iraq.” [BBC News, 2/2/2004]

Britain’s Joint Terrorist Analysis Center:

[E]vents in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist-related activity in the UK.” [Financial Times, 7/19/2005]

Former chief of the British intelligence service MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller:

“UK foreign policy … in Iraq and Afghanistan” has inspired a “violent threat” to the UK that will persist for “more than a generation.” [The Independent, 11/11/2006]

David Cameron, leader of Britain’s Conservative Party:

“It is clear that over the last few years decisions that have been taken, the difficulties there have been in Iraq, clearly have had a wider effect” and “the threat to Britain was now greater as a result of the war [in Iraq] was ‘a statement of fact.'” [ABC News, 12/18/2006]

Dr. Jonathan Eyal, the director of international security at the Royal United Services Institute:

The “terrorist threat facing Britain from home-grown al-Qaeda agents is higher than at any time since the September 11 attacks in 2001.” He faulted the “wars in Afghanistan and Iraq” and western government’s inability to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. [The Telegraph, 2/25/2007]

The U.S. intelligence community assessed that Iraq “has become the ‘cause celebre‘ for jihadists.” The State Department has acknowledged the war in Iraq “has been used by terrorists as a rallying cry for radicalization and extremist activity that has contributed to instability in neighboring countries.” The longer the occupation in Iraq continues, the more it serves as a recruiting and propaganda tool for terrorists. Ultimately — as British experts understand — the Iraq war leads to greater insecurity around the globe.

Ryan Powers