As the world celebrates the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, we must not overlook the important work of security services to protect against terrorism, the former MI6 chief said.
Sir Richard Dearlove, who headed the Secret Intelligence Service between 1999 and 2004, said at a commemorative event in London, “We are committed to the diligence and skills of women and men in our intelligence and security communities. I’m responsible. “
He was speaking in front of a four-tonne twisted piece of steel from the ruins of a New York twin tower forged into commemorative artwork at the Olympic Park in London.
Sir Richard tells the people who gathered at the monument:
“The events in Afghanistan remind us that their mission has not been completed. Today it is appropriate to acknowledge their patriotism and selfless dedication to this work.”
Sir Richard said the 2001 US attack on 9/11, when Islamic terrorists hijacked a plane and flew it into a building, was “shocked and frightened in the same area.”
It is an “unprecedented attack of cruelty and ferocity on our society and our values,” which still casts a shadow over modern political and social life.
Sir Richard remembered his responsibility at the time and the challenge of responding to an attack that killed 2,977 people from more than 90 countries. Among the dead were 67 British.
Sir Richard was returning from Sweden to London when the attack took place.
He went straight to Downing Street and within 36 hours traveled to Washington with a small group of senior intelligence and security guards on the only flight across the Atlantic allowed due to the immediate closure of US airspace. Did.
“There was reason to anticipate a major terrorist attack, but tragically, intelligence agencies didn’t show exactly where and when,” said the former MI6 chief.
His role was to inform the United States that Britain promised its resources “in the future” of al-Qaeda and its affiliates, as it was already clear who was behind the bloodshed.
When he flew over New York and Washington, he remembered that “the plane got off the ruins of the twin towers, which are still smoking.”
After landing in the United States, Sir Richard embarked on a “business-like but emotionally charged” “intensive schedule of high-level meetings.”
Sir Richard recalled that Washington was “like a ghost town. Attacks on the US government and corporate centers were unprecedented in the 20th century.”
A few days later, Sir Richard was in then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Washington. He was personally working on a joint security initiative with US President George W. Bush.
Sir Richard said: “I didn’t know where the fight against al-Qaeda would lead us, but I realized that it takes clever planning, courage, execution, and significant risk to win and retain the initiative. . “
The reaction that became known as the war on terrorism continued.
Sir Richard said: “Although there were differences in the way we did, our strategic coordination of intelligence and security resources had important consequences in combating the overall threat of terrorism.”
The job of security services remains important, he said, not being recognized in “applause at the end of the day.”
Sir Richard added:
“Their success is rarely acknowledged, but things go wrong because the nature of the threat ranges from large-scale plots to lone wolves, and sometimes they have to do when their targets are infinite and random. Sometimes blamed first.
“To be able to stop a terrorist attack, we need to have the courage to endanger mistakes, even if they are serious mistakes. The choice between intervention and gaining more intelligence is always good. is.”