Penguin: MI5 Former Chief Slams War on Terror

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MI5 former chief decries ‘war on terror’

Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller uses BBC lecture to criticise ‘unhelpful’ term, attack Iraq invasion and suggest al-Qaida talks

Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former head of MI5, delivered a withering attack on the invasion of Iraq, decried the term “war on terror”, and held out the prospect of talks with al-Qaida.

MI5's former director general Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller during her 2011 BBC Reith lecture. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

Recording her first BBC Reith lecture on the theme, Securing Freedom, she made clear she believed the UK and US governments had not sufficiently understood the resentment that had been building up among Arab people, which was only compounded by the war against Iraq.

Before an audience which included Theresa May, the home secretary, she also said the 9/11 attacks were “a crime, not an act of war”. “So I never felt it helpful to refer to a war on terror”.

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