Sunday, April 02, 2006

Reaping the whirlwind: Iraq and terrorism

The Observer has seen the Home Office narrative (first draft) which is what we have been told we are getting instead of a public enquiry into July 7, and it is official: the link between Iraq and July 7th.

''Despite attempts by Downing Street to play down suggestions that the conflict has made Britain a target for terrorists, the Home Office inquiry into the deadliest terror attack on British soil has conceded that the bombers were inspired by UK foreign policy, principally the decision to invade Iraq. ''

''Initial drafts of the government's account into the bombings, which have been revealed to The Observer, state that Iraq was a key 'contributory factor'. The references to Britain's involvement in Iraq are contained in a section examining what inspired the 'radicalisation' of the four British suicide bombers, Sidique Khan, Hasib Hussain, Shehzad Tanweer and Germaine Lindsay.
The findings will prove highly embarrassing to Tony Blair, who has maintained that the decision to go to war against Iraq would make Britain safer. ''

Ha. Remember this?

''The Foreign Office's top official warned Downing Street that the Iraq war was fuelling Muslim extremism in Britain a year before the 7 July bombings, The Observer can reveal.
Despite repeated denials by Number 10 that the war made Britain a target for terrorists, a letter from Michael Jay, the Foreign Office permanent under-secretary, to the cabinet secretary, Sir Andrew Turnbull - obtained by this newspaper - makes the connection clear.''

''However, all mention of the Iraq connection to extremism was removed from 'core scripts' - briefing papers given to ministers to defend the government's position on Iraq and terror.''

(Observer's source document .)

Finally, they cannot deny it any longer: this war has led to hatred and terror and suicide bombings in the U.K. Blair knew this risk, and he denied it, and he went ahead with the war, and he lied about the reasons for the war and the risks and consequences of the war - and people were murdered because of this.

The Sunday Times cites different sources to make similar points. From the Sunday Times, today:

''A government report, compiled by a senior civil servant using intelligence from the security services and due to be published in the next few weeks, is... expected to recognise that the July 7 bombers were motivated by the invasion of Iraq.''

''A leaked top-secret memo from the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) says the war in Iraq has “exacerbated” the threat by radicalising British Muslims and attracting new recruits to anti-western terror attacks.

''The four-page memo, entitled International Terrorism: Impact of Iraq, contradicts Blair’s public assurances by concluding that the invasion of Iraq has fomented a jihad or holy war against Britain.''

''The leak of the JIC’s official assessment — marked “top secret” — will alarm Blair as it appears to be directed at undermining the public statements in which he has denied that the war in Iraq has increased the terror threat from Al-Qaeda.''

More, from the Sunday Times today

Let's look at some background: Blair makes the case for invading Iraq in 2003 to the public in a Paxman interview with audience questions.

What is so frustrating to me is that he DOES seem to get the link between unstable states and terrorism, and with Iraq being attacked and subsequently al Qaeda' 'coming together' with Iraq to support its struggles. But he gets it totally wrong.

It is not about Saddam and WMD and al Qaeda all 'coming together' like James Bond super-baddies to take over the world with nuclear weapons, with Bin Laden cackling evilly down the batphone in his secret mountain lair to the strutting swivel-eyed Saddam in his palace, planning 'world domination by TERROR! mwah hahahah!...

Such nonsense is the stuff of stupid movies, and macho fantasies.

The reality was - and Blair was warned of this - that a chaotic, post-invasion Iraq is somewhere that al Qaeda sympathisers and hardline jihadi fighters will swarm to, keen to struggle to set up a hardline theocracy, using whatever weapons they can. Including suicide bombs. And not just in Iraq, but in the U.K too. It becomes an idealogical war, that we call a 'war on terror' - and they call 'a war on Muslims'.

A 'jihad', a 'righteous war' to both sides. And the way this 'war' is being fought is disgraceful: both sides lie, both sides bomb civilians, both sides glorify criminal acts and use a poisonous ideaology to justify murderous acts, spin propoganda to recruit young soldiers to their cause. Both sides are careless of international law and agreements about torture and the Geneva convention. Both sides are now locked down for the long run, with deadly consequences, because of stupid bloody arrogance, because they will not see what fools they are.

There is a horrifying Shakespearean symmetry about how it all began.

Two spoiled directionless sons of oil millionaires, Bush and Bin Laden, both motivated by religious fundementalism and a longing for power. Two idealogies, both of which sees human lives as disposable collateral damage to be sacrificed in the 'war' to win. Two 'shock and awe' spectaculars - 9/11 and Iraq. Two sides of the same coin, feeding the fire.

It does not have to be this way. Our leaders are suppposed to be accountable to us. Unless we hand over all our power and allow them to bully and frighten us, tag us and watch us and scare us into submission. But until that day, when our leaders are running mad, when they are in denial or lying, it is our responsibility to challenge them and bring them to account.

I don't see what else to do. Too many lives are at risk and this policy, this stupid 'War on Terror' is not working. It is making things worse. Much worse.

Please, do what you can. Engage. Debate. Protest. Care. We condemn ourselves to a bloody and unstable future if we do not make them reconsider now, and change their behaviour, admit their mistakes. The first step is official recognition of the links between the invasion of Iraq, and attacks on the U.K , including July 7th. Wilful refusal to accept this clear connection is not acceptable. Lying is not acceptable. Excuses are not acceptable. This disconnect between what we know and what the Government has denied until now, must end. Every day in Iraq is July 7th now. And July 7th will happen here, again, and again, and again, until this madness ends.

Finally, it seems, with the publication of this 'narrative', the link is made clear.

Our leaders need to stop, think, admit their faults. They need to change their behaviour and their policies. They need to learn from their mistakes. The 'narrative' is a start.

But only an independent public enquiry will reveal the full picture, and allow us to learn from what happened before July 7th, what happened on July 7th and what happened after July 7th, so that we may save lives and spare future suffering.

It is not about a blame game, it is about stopping innocent people being killed.

You can sign the petition asking for an independent public enquiry by clicking here.

And you can email your M.P by clicking here

UPDATE: Curious Hamster on the case, getting up even earlier than me at 3.14am. Or possibly not going to bed. Well, righteous anger makes it hard to sleep these days.


Blogger Holly Finch said...

oh the spin and the lies unfold....we are not stupid, we weren't born yesterday...we knew this was the case & so did B&B they just thought they could pull the wool over our eyes...well they can' long as they keep fighting so will we.....great post hon x

April 02, 2006 10:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Bush and Blair may well have known that the truth would come out about there being no WMD, the risk of terrorism in coalition countries, etc, but didn't care, as long as they got their way and the invasion of Iraq went ahead. They had to lie to make it happen and thought "to hell with the consequences". They thought that any price was a price worth paying to get what they wanted. Remember Blair saying, before the invasion, that he was "prepared to pay the blood price" for invading Iraq?

April 02, 2006 11:17 am  
Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

Excellent post, I hope more people read it, act on it and force the truth to come out ... all of it. If this is just the first daft of the 'narrative' then there is hope that the call for a proper inquiry will get too loud to ignore. and it needs to soon before things get worse.

April 02, 2006 12:31 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

What concerns me is as they have leaked the Iraq-7/7 link - which was a lost cause, everyone knew it, that wa spresumably to draw fire frOm the mounting calls for a public or indeoendent enquiry.

But the Iraq link is a given: there are many other reasons why we want a public enquiry.

Such as...

General lack of preparedness on the day
De Menezes
Intelligence monitoring Khan
Number of prospective bomb plots & plotters in UK
How on top of the situation M15 and M16 are
How dependent on US intelligence we are
Pakistan connection
Ambulance response on the day
Aftercare of victims and families
Anomalies in the version of the day ( still no official version)
Why the terror threat was downgraded...

...and that is just off the top of my head.

This is an attempt to draw fire and damp down the story: the London Assembly report, we think, will be damnign - the fact that all we have had is internal reviews is not good enough. Ask the police, the emnergency services, the security services to investigate themselves? No surprise that they are not found wanting.

But we are told that more attacks are imminent, we are told that we should also keep taking the trains and buses and walking the streets...

...saying, 'yes, Iraq was a factor/nobody cocked up/we did all we could' is not reassuring. And not good enough.

There were failures before 7/7, failures on the day and failures after. Failures of communication, and of response and we should learn from them.

Throwing me a bone about Iraq is not news and not an answer and will nto help to save lives in future: for us to be safer, we must learn and things must change. And by 'change', I do not mean, 'trust the Govt. whilst we sling out your liberties and rip up your democratic rights.'

April 02, 2006 4:22 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Juan Cole is ace. In fact, I must blogroll him and Riverbend.

April 02, 2006 4:25 pm  
Blogger Garry said...

Good stuff.

Astonishingly, some people still refuse to acknowledge the link. (See Harry's Place today for example.) Don't know if you ever saw the Fast Show sketches with the politician who denied everything - "No, I'm not sitting in a car. I refute that categorically. It simply is not true..." he says to a policeman while sitting in his car after being pulled over for speeding.

Who'd have thought we'd end up with politicians who made that guy look reasonable? The only thing left is to try to embarrass them with the sheer ludicrousness of their arguments.

(Up late is the answer btw. One of the many joys of insomnia.)

April 02, 2006 6:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a previous job, I used to work with people who have been living the joys of islamnutterism in their own countries long before the *first* bombing of the World Trade centre. Have a look at the joys of Thailand. A close look.

Iraq probably was a contributing cuase to 7/7. So was the removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The intervention in East Timeor caused the Bali bombings. If we intervene in Darfur to stop the genocide, this will cause terrorist attacks - the warnings have alreday been made.

Anyone for a march against doing anything in Darfur?

The Anon

April 03, 2006 9:49 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the pre-Iraq terrorist timeline as set out in Harry's Place ( and may remind you and your contributors that the 7/7 events might have other causes than just the invasion of Iraq. Of course, the Iraq invasion contributed to Muslim anger but the anger was already there and being reflected in terrorist outrages

"For the hard of remembering I set out below the evidence in support of the contention that 'It's not all about Iraq':

February 1993: First bombing of World Trade Center; 6 killed.

June 1996: Truck bomb explodes outside Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia; 19 killed, hundreds of others injured.

August 1998: Bombing of Embassies in East Africa; 224 killed.

September 2001: Destruction of World Trade Centre and attack on Pentagon, thousands dead and injured.

November 2002: Explosion at synogogue in Tunisia leaves 17 dead.

October 2002: Nightclub bombings in Bali, Indonesia, 202 dead.

May 2003: Suicide bombers kill 34 at housing compounds for Westerners in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Are these Islamist bombings of Western targets to vanish down the memory plughole because their dates don't fit the chronology or are they to be explained away as acts of retaliation against the imperialist invasion of Iraq - just, er, in advance of the actual deed?"

April 03, 2006 2:25 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Umbongo, I have read the Harry stuff and as susual it fails to convince though it does entertain.

I am discusiing the fact that the Home Office official narrative puts Iraq as the primary radicalising factor of the 7/7 bombers. See?
Oh, do look at the poll in the (pro-war) Torygraph today...

'Three years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the British public no longer believes that our military presence in Iraq is serving any purpose.

For the first time, a substantial majority wants troops to be withdrawn, either immediately or within 12 months, regardless of conditions on the ground.As Iraq teeters on the edge of civil war, a YouGov survey for The Daily Telegraph today shows opposition to the war at its highest level since the US-led coalition invaded the country in March 2003.

Fifty-seven per cent of respondents believe that George W Bush and Tony Blair were wrong to take military action. Only a third still believes they were right'

April 03, 2006 6:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm with you - I want an official enquiry. A "narrative" is useless. But don't pin all your hopes on an official enquiry: the terms of reference will be drawn as narrowly as possible and some stooge will be appointed to run it.

The only reason I set out the Harry's Place time line was to show that terrorism was rife before Iraq. Neither you nor the great British public should expect a thank you letter from Al Q'aeda when our troops eventually do come home. Furthermore I'm not willing to exonerate the 7/7 bombers or those who planned the bombing one iota: theirs is the whole responsibility. There are no excuses for murder of innocents. In exacerbating the bombers' anger Iraq might have been a contributory factor, as might the West's support of Israel. But, if the evidence being presented against the 7 currently on trial for planning further bombings in the UK is an indication of what motivates them, then the attack is on our way of life. It has very little to do with our foreign policy. It's more fundamental and more serious than that.

April 03, 2006 7:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Rachel. Dahr Jamail is another *must read* blog about events in Iraq. He is an independent journalist who spends a lot of time in Iraq and has extensive contacts there. Sign up for his Iraq dispatches via email or on his blog.

April 04, 2006 12:33 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony Blair was specifically warned of the consequences of invading Iraq *before* the event -

Intelligence and Security Committee Report

"The JIC assessed that al-Qaida and associated groups continued to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests, and that threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq." p.34

Only a fool, a liar, or dissembler would deny that it has had precisely that outcome.

Keep kicking Rachel :-)

April 04, 2006 3:36 am  

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