According to revelations in Middle East Eye, Britain’s secret services knew that a key source used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq had been tortured. But they used this ‘intelligence’ anyway.
The British government therefore ignored a wealth of evidence showing that torture might get someone to talk but it won’t necessarily get someone to tell the truth.
Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi
Ali Muhammad Abdul Aziz al-Fakheri – a former Libyan militant better known as Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi – was central to US-British ‘intelligence’ that led to the invasion of Iraq.
According to Middle East Eye:
Under torture, Libi told his Egyptian interrogators about links between al-Qaeda and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons programme. Three members of the militant organisation had been sent to Iraq for training, he said.
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In short, it seems Libi told his torturers what they wanted to hear. And a US Senate intelligence committee report in 2006 revealed that the CIA was “purposefully aggressive in seeking to draw connections” between Iraq and al-Qaeda, so its exploitation of Libi’s account was unsurprising.
What MI6 knew
In 2002, an MI6 officer reportedly witnessed the CIA bring Libi onto a plane to Egypt in a sealed coffin.
But they remained silent. In fact, MI6 and MI5 then fed questions to Libi’s interrogators and followed reports on his answers.
In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, then-UK PM Tony Blair said: “It would be wrong to say that there is no evidence of any links between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi regime… There is intelligence coming through to us the entire time about this.”
But Blair apparently chose one set of ‘evidence’ over another. Because a leaked 2002 memo showed that Richard Dearlove, head of the UK Secret Intelligence Service, had told Blair that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed [by the US] around the policy” of toppling Saddam Hussein. And this information didn’t require duress, unlike Libi’s case.
Yet another reason to distrust establishment intentions
– Read more of The Canary‘s coverage of the invasion of Iraq.
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Featured image via Paul Buckingham/Wikimedia Commons
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