LONDON, July 20 (UPI) -- The decision to use military force in Iraq in 2003 gave Osama bin Laden the jihad he looking for, the former head of British intelligence said Tuesday.
London is examining its role in the Iraq war from the planning stages in 2001 to the end of British combat operations in 2009.
Eliza Manningham-Buller, who led British intelligence agency MI5 from 2002-07, told the London inquiry into the Iraq war Tuesday that the Iraqi invasion was a propaganda victory for al-Qaida, London's Guardian newspaper reports.
"Arguably, we gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad," she said.
She said the decision to use military force to remove Saddam Hussein from power created a political situation where al-Qaida could establish a presence in Iraq.
At home, she said, the Iraq war was used to radicalize British Muslims, adding British authorities were "overburdened" with information on terrorist plots in the United Kingdom by 2004.
Manningham-Buller added that there was no evidence to suggest Saddam had a role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and the international threat posed by Iraq prior to the invasion in 2003 was low.