London, July 12 (ANI): Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's order to go to war against Iraq in 2003 along with the United States 'gave Bin Laden his jihad,' claims the director-general of MI5 Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller.
"Arguably we gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad so that he was able to move into Iraq in a way that he was not before," she added.
Sky News quoted Manningham-Buller as telling the Lord Chilcot led Iraq Inquiry that the UK's involvement in Iraq gave "fresh impetus" to "home-grown" terrorists who saw the attack on Saddam Hussein as an attack on Islam.
"Our involvement in Iraq radicalised, for want of a better word, a whole generation of young people, not a whole generation, a few among a generation who saw our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as being an attack on Islam," she said.
She repeatedly warned ministers of the increased threat but was forced to ask for the MI5 budget to be doubled as a consequence, she told the inquiry.
"We were overburdened with intelligence on a broad scale that was pretty well more than we could cope with in terms of plots, leads to plots and things that we needed to pursue," she said.
The report also quoted him saying that invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein allowed al-Qaida to establish a foothold in Iraq which it had never previously managed.
Earlier, previous witnesses told the Inquiry that the 9/11 attacks prompted a steep change in American policy towards Iraq.
Manningham-Buller visited Washington on a number of occasions after the Twin Tower attacks and she told the Inquiry that she detected a split in opinion within US government departments.
She argued that the Government's analysis of a possible increased terror threat to the UK turned out to be correct, but disagreed with the idea that Saddam's possession of 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' (WMD) posed a threat to the nation.
"There is no credible intelligence to suggest that connection between 9/11 and Saddam. That was the judgment of the CIA. It was not a judgment that found favour in some parts of the American machine," she added. (ANI)