Report: invasion of Iraq provided boost for Al-Qaeda

Monday, July 18, 2005

A report released on July 18 by Chatham House has claimed that the risk of terrorism has increased as a result of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It says that terrorist networks such as Al-Qaeda have been strengthened, giving a boost to their "propaganda, recruitment and fundraising".

According to the press release, the report claims that there is "no doubt that the invasion of Iraq has imposed particular difficulties for the UK and for the wider coalition against terrorism".

"The UK is at particular risk because it is the closest ally of the US and has closely supported the deployment of British troops in the military campaigns to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam's regime in Iraq," it continued.

The report also criticised the UK governments lack of attention to international terrorism.

"As a result of giving lower priority to international terrorism, the British authorities did not fully appreciate the threat from Al-Qaeda. The failure to gain any warning from existing information of the 9/11 attacks on the United States was an intelligence failure of the entire Western alliance, not only of the US intelligence community," the report said.

It also stated that countries such as the UK and Australia are "at particular risk because [they are close allies] of the United States, has deployed armed forces in the military campaigns to topple the Taleban regime in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and has taken a leading role in international intelligence, police and judicial cooperation against Al-Qaeda".

Australian shadow foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd claimed that the report proved Australia's support for the Iraqi invasion has placed Australia at greater risk. He said that it "turbo-charged" its profile as a potential terrorist target.

A number of governments have criticised the report. Australian Prime Minister John Howard is currently in Washington. He gave a joint press conference with Donald Rumsfeld.

"I think that people who think that terrorists pick and choose discriminately don't understand how it works. The United States had done nothing on September 11 when it (the attack on America) was done. People who think they can make a separate peace with terrorists will find that it's like feeding an alligator, hoping it eats you last," Mr Rumsfeld said.

"No country can allow its foreign and defence policy to be malleable in the hands of terrorists," Mr Howard added.

Chatham House is a non-profit NGO. Its website describes it as "one of the world's leading organizations for the analysis of international issues". It was formerly known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

The report was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has commented that the terrorist threat to the west results more generally from the fact that there has been "80 years of western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of the western need for oil."