Majalla, November 4
"Iran is the Greatest Threat to World Peace"
"We have seen evidence in the past of cooperation between Iran and Al-Qaeda and indeed during the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran killed and facilitated the killing of many American and British soldiers, using Shia militias, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Lebanese Hizballah. Well over 1,000 American soldiers were killed in those two campaigns as well as many British soldiers."
2017-11-04 by Interview with Colonel Richard Kemp
Colonel Richard Kemp spent most his 30 year career fighting terrorism and insurgency, commanding British troops on the front line of some of the world’s toughest hotspots, including Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans and Northern Ireland. In 2003, he was sent to Kabul to take command of British Forces where he helped to disarm local warlords, trained the fledgling Afghan army and police and played a part in preventing a coup d’état against President Hamid Karzai.
Most of the last five years of his career were spent in Downing Street, heading the international terrorism team at the Joint Intelligence Committee. He was also a member of Cobra, the government’s top-level crisis management committee. He Chaired the Cobra Intelligence Group, responsible for coordinating the work of the national intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, during the July 2005 London bombings, the Madrid and Bali attacks.
In his wide-ranging interview with Majalla, Colonel Kemp detailed the gravity of the threat Iran poses to international security. He appraised the commitment by Saudi Arabia to countering Iranian aggression in the region, arguing that condemnation of the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen is objectionable and unjustified. He voiced support for Saudi Arabia and its allies in the dispute with Qatar and weighed in on the Muslim Brotherhood’s destabilising influence in Britain and the Middle East. He assessed the far-reaching implications of Obama’s Middle East Policy and Trump’s moves to reverse what Obama instituted with regard to Iran. And he called upon British and European governments to legitimate more repressive measures in the face of increased terror threats.
You have voiced support for the Saudi-led coalition to support the Yemeni government against an Iran-backed Houthi insurgency. You have also called for Britain to back Saudi Arabia and its allies in the conflict. Drawing from your extensive experience with the Saudi military and intelligence forces, tell us more about your views on this issue.
My experience with Saudi Arabia goes right the way back to 1977 when I first joined the army and trained at Sandhurst. We had Saudi Arabian army officers training with us and I have had contact with the Saudi military over the years since then. The greatest level of contact was during the Gulf War between 1990 and 1991 when I was stationed in Saudi Arabia for 6 months. I dealt with the Saudi forces on a day to day basis and since then through my work in various intelligence and security roles I have worked with Saudi Arabia and their police, military and intelligence services. I understand the ethos and the mentality of Saudi Arabia and understand ours and in terms of those security issues there are many similarities.
I find it objectionable that people want to condemn Saudi Arabia for what is it doing in the Yemen campaign and I strongly suspect their political motivation for doing that. You often get human rights groups stating boldly and clearly that Saudi Arabia is committing war crimes in Yemen – but they have no realistic basis for saying that. They haven’t done investigations which allow them to draw such bald conclusions. It is usually on the basis of reports from witnesses that have spoken to them but you can’t evaluate a war crime only on that basis because there are so many different ingredients that make up a war crime. I have been involved in those military operations myself and I know how problematic it is to be effective against the enemy but at the same time to avoid killing innocent people.
It is very important that Western military people who do really understand the situation, as I do, to speak up and not necessarily defend Saudi but put the perspective across that just because some human rights NGO or UN official says that Saudi Arabia is committing war crimes, it does not mean that it is. Unfortunately, too many people in the media and politicians accept these accusations and I have seen some ill-informed and vitriolic comments about Saudi Arabia from politicians that are completely unjustified.
I see Iran as the greatest threat to world peace today. Not just to the Middle East, but elsewhere in the world. A lot of so-called experts and political leaders in this country and in the media down play Iran’s role in Yemen. There is absolutely no doubt that Iran is playing a critical role in the Yemen conflict providing very effective weaponry that wouldn’t otherwise be there and also providing advice, assistance, support, and direction to the Houthis. Some people may exaggerate that but the reality is that it is very significant. In many ways it is comparable to Iranian aggression against Israel using their Hizballah proxies as they use the Houthi proxies in Yemen.
This aggression in Yemen should be stopped as part of confronting Iranian imperial aggression across the region. It is not just the legitimate government in Yemen that is being undermined by these people, but we should also take account of Saudi’s concerns on their border. We obviously have an interest in regional stability and the threat to Saudi Arabia. We shouldn’t simply allow terrorists directed by Iran or anyone else to take over a country.
Britain provides sophisticated weaponry to Saudi Arabia and should continue to do so. Those people who say we should not supply these weapons lack coherent thought because the alternative is that they get weapons from elsewhere and those weapons will be less sophisticated and less discriminating and therefore are more likely to kill innocent civilians. We also have British military experts assisting the Saudis. They are not directly fighting in the conflict, but helping to develop intelligence capabilities, targeting capabilities and other capabilities using British experience and expertise. We should continue doing these things and if necessary increase. If Saudi Arabia wants more we should give them more because it is important we support our Saudi allies and help them become more effective in their fight.
Despite great efforts to avoid it there have been a lot of civilians killed in Yemen. The first and most significant reason is that Houthis use human shields in the same way as Al-Qaeda, Hizballah, ISIS, Hamas and various other groups do to try and get their enemies to kill their own civilians by hiding behind the civilian population and positioning weaponry among civilian areas. They recognise, as all Islamic terrorists recognise, that there is a huge amount of benefit in the media in saying that Saudi Arabia is deliberately killing innocent civilians. It is proven as a tactic that works and in fact those people that argue that we should cease supporting Saudi Arabia in Yemen are actually making it much more likely that innocent civilians are going to die because they show the terrorists that their political warfare tactics work.
The other problem is mistakes and miscalculation. Mistakes happen, technology fails, intelligence is never a perfect art. I have spent much of my life involved with intelligence, I know how imperfect it often is. Despite precision weaponry, bombs fall in the wrong place and explosives do unexpected things.
What do you believe is the reason for the West’s perception of the war in Yemen?
There is a feeling among many in the West that there is never a justification for fighting. And for some, the very fact that the US, Britain and other European nations are helping the Saudis automatically makes their cause wrong. It is European colonial guilt. If we are involved in conflict, it is automatically wrong in their eyes. There is a feeling among many in the West, for a reason that is very hard to fathom, that Iran are actually the good guys and Saudis are the bad guys. The cultural difference between what we accept as normal and what Saudis accept as normal are seen by some as making Saudi an evil country. Iran on the other hand is not really seen that way. That is partly because in order to gain support for the misguided P5+1 nuclear deal there had to be a lot of softening up of the view of Iran in the West. There was a great deal of propaganda from various governments including Obama’s government, for example spreading the false notion that President Rouhani is a moderate who restrains the ayatollahs and does not represent a threat to the West. In many Western perceptions this has worked in Iran’s favour and against Saudi.
Sixteen years into Britain’s military presence in Afghanistan, how do you view the outcome so far?
There’s a lot of confusion in this country about why we went to Afghanistan and that’s because successive governments have tried to justify operations there in a number of different ways. Ultimately the reason we went with the Americans was because of what happened on 9/11, we went there in order to chuck the Taliban out, chuck Al-Qaeda out, and to make sure that Afghanistan didn’t get used again as a base in which Al-Qaeda or other jihadist groups could attack the West and that has been successful. Obviously, there are things about that campaign that have not been successful and that could have been done differently and better but ultimately the goal of going there has succeeded. The big problem that we are seeing unfold today is that without a Western presence there the security situation has continued to deteriorate which is why the Americans have had to send more forces in and why Britain still maintains a presence there today, mainly however in training Afghan forces.
Britain will likely send more troops to join the US-led surge to shore up the regime against a new Taliban onslaught. Do you believe the surge could set the conditions for a peaceful resolution of the conflict?
I think it was necessary. The Americans had to go in and we as their closest ally also had to go in with them. More British citizens were killed on 9/11 than any other single terrorism attack and we have also had subsequent terrorist attacks emanating from the same source. How it will end up I don’t know. I am not sure that the West has the commitment to maintain military forces there on a permanent basis which may well be necessary to keep the country from falling back into the hands of the Taliban. Already a lot of the country is back under oppressive Taliban control.
We could look at it like Korea. The Americans have had forces permanently stationed in Korea since the Korean war back in the early 50s. They are there and they are providing a security function. So perhaps we should look at it like that, as a permanent place where Western forces will be required for the foreseeable future.
It is widely reported that Iran, previously an enemy of the Taliban, is now helping the group to exploit the power vacuum in Afghanistan by arming and supporting Taliban fighters. What is your reading of this trend?
Iran’s role has always been highly questionable. When the Americans went into Afghanistan initially a significant element of Al-Qaeda fled to Iran, including members of the command group of Al-Qaeda and some of Bin Laden’s family members. As far as I am aware some of them are still there and they were not prevented from operating and despite American and British requests to Iran they were not extradited. We have seen evidence in the past of cooperation between Iran and Al-Qaeda and indeed during the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran killed and facilitated the killing of many American and British soldiers, using Shia militias, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Lebanese Hizballah. Well over 1,000 American soldiers were killed in those two campaigns as well as many British soldiers.
We have seen Iran used for many years now as a base for Taliban to operate out of into Afghanistan. The current Iranian regime is founded largely on hatred for the United States of America. It is one of the main foundational motivations. Inevitably, wherever the Americans are they will do whatever they can to hurt them and they are going to continue to do that in Afghanistan if they can.
How does Iran’s intervention in Afghanistan play into NATO’s strategy there?
I think that Western governments, NATO perhaps, certainly the previous US government and the British government, preferred to play down Iran’s role because as we know they want to appease Iran. So, I think they haven’t really said very much about it. I don’t know what they think of what the Iranians are doing. I would say that the Iranian role in Afghanistan at present is marginal but should be stopped if we can. We should not let Iran attack any of our forces or our allies so if we can we should stop it.
Do you believe that the Taliban could become sufficiently powerful to over throw the Afghan government?
I don’t think that is likely to happen as long as the Americans support them. If the Americans withdrew their support for any reasons then it is a possibility. But after the Americans pulled a lot of their forces out the Taliban did make significant gains. They were never in the position where they were going to take Kabul and bring down the government even though they carried out some very nasty attacks. I don’t think that they are likely to take over while the Americans remain.
The Afghan government worries that the presence of the official Taliban office in Qatar grants the group political legitimacy. What is your view of the political crisis engulfing Qatar stemming from accusations by its Arab neighbors that it supports terrorism?
I think Qatar has played a very devious role in all of this. It has for a long time had a policy of wanting to have a foot in almost every camp. They have a big American base in their country, they want to be friends with the Americans, but at the same time they are supporting people who are attacking Americans. It is very hard to predict how that will develop but I am quite encouraged to see the desire of countries like Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf to stop Qatar behaving that way and they need to be stopped. I have seen some indications that they recognise that they will have to change their direction somewhat. If they do – good, if they don’t, then who knows where that will lead.
What is your view of the Muslim Brotherhood?
The Muslim Brotherhood is a source of enormous instability, not only in the Middle East but also elsewhere including here in Britain. Their role in facilitating and supporting in different ways the radicalisation of Muslims over here is deeply worrying. They should be proscribed as a terrorist organisation. I know that the British government carried out an investigation into them and came up with the wrong answer in my opinion. I think that was more to do with appeasement rather than taking the decision that they knew was the right decision to take. In relation to here, the British government has a very difficult problem to solve because we have got an increasing radicalisation problem including stemming from the Muslim Brotherhood. We also have got an increasing Muslim population so balancing taking the necessary steps against radicalisation without alienating the Muslim population is hugely challenging. I think the Brotherhood are problematic in Britain and we saw what they did in Egypt. In my opinion that was a very dangerous situation that was fortunately resolved, not necessarily fully resolved, but it was confronted. I think they are an organisation that when they operate in the West, we should be stamping them out and our friends and allies in the Middle East should do the same.
Tensions between Erbil and Baghdad are escalating quickly in the aftermath of the Kurdish independence referendum. Where do predict this conflict will lead? Could it lead to war?
I think easily it could. I think Iran has got its dirty little fingers in this pie as well. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have been involved in supressing the Kurds in Kirkuk and undoubtedly they don’t want Kurdish independence or autonomy in Iraq or among the Kurdish areas in Iran. Iran obviously wants to dominate the whole region, particularly Iraq, and it is worried about its own Kurdish population. It could easily result in a war between the government of Iraq that is supported by Iran and the Kurds. A blood bath could emanate from it quite easily and Iraq could be split into three areas or more. Hopefully it is not going to descend into a situation similar to what Syria is facing, but it could do.
How can a peaceful solution be achieved in your view?
I think you have to look at the role of Iran in all of these things. One of the problems that exist in Iraq is all down to Obama’s policies in the Middle East. The rise of ISIS can be directly attributed to his decision to withdraw American forces in 2012. He made many excuses for it but it was against the advice of his generals. It wasn’t in response to any strategic situation on the ground, it was all about his domestic electoral situation. He wanted to be able to say by the time the election occurred that he had pulled out of Iraq, that he had ended that war, and we saw the consequences. Also, his policy in relation to Iran, appeasing Iran to the extent that he has and allowing this dangerous nuclear deal to go ahead has encouraged and emboldened Iran in many places including Iraq. I think one of the solutions is to stop Iran and we have already seen indications of President Trump looking to change the Nuclear deal or get rid of it. Certainly he is not trying to appease Iran in the same way as Obama and I think he also needs to take a hard line with Iran everywhere, particularly in Iraq.
Some people think that Trump’s Middle East policies remain largely unclear. What is your reading of them so far?
I think he has got a very, very difficult situation on his hands for a number of reasons. One, because the situation itself is incredibly complicated to a large extent because of Obama. I am not blaming Obama for everything but his policies in relation to Iran in particular are responsible to some considerable extent for what is happening now. He has inherited a very difficult situation which he has to reverse because Obama obviously wanted to make Iran the dominant power in the Middle East and that can only lead to instability and conflict in the region and beyond. Another problem that he faces is that he has got – and it’s not just over the Middle East – but he has got a real problem internally in the US State Department and to some extent the Department of Defence who are in many cases still determined to follow Obama’s policies. I believe he has the right idea in relation to the Middle East. He has seen what the reality of the situation is because before he became president he wanted to distance himself entirely from the situation but now I believe he sees that he can’t do that. It is then complicated by having effectively an opposition within his own government. I would like to see him taking a strong grip on his own administration and then reversing much of what Obama did in the Middle East, supporting Saudi Arabia, supporting our other long term allies in the Gulf and recognising the animosity of Iran. Saudi Arabia have been our long standing ally and a long standing ally of the Americans whereas Iran has been the long standing enemy of us and the Americans. It is not just the thousand plus American and British soldiers killed by Iran in Afghanistan and Iraq, but we just have to look back at the 241 American troops killed in a Hezbollah attack in Lebanon in 1982 which was ordered by Iran. Obama effectively helped to destabilize the Middle East, tried to appease Iran and ended up making many other countries there very, very worried, and rightly so.
Tensions between Israel and Iran appear to be heightening as Tehran accelerates its ballistic missile program and its aggressive policies in the Middle East, particularly in Syria. Could this lead to Israel launching a strike against Iran?
I think it is certainly a possibility. Israel has concluded that it cannot afford to allow Iran to become a nuclear armed power. And the long-range missiles that Iran is now developing are not really for Israel or for Saudi, they are for here, they are to threaten other countries beyond the region. So, it is not only the ballistic missile programme, it is more the nuclear programme that worries Israel. I don’t think that Israel has the capability to completely stop it but I think it has the capability to delay it for a number of years. I think Israel considers it to be such a grave threat to their country that they would have to do that if necessary.
What would provoke Israel to strike Iran?
I guess it is Israel getting intelligence that Iran was either on the verge of break out or already had the capability. I think that the Iranians wanted to exploit the Iran deal in other ways. I don’t think that there is much real danger of them fundamentally breaking the terms of that deal in nuclear development but the deal allows them to continue to develop and research centrifuges and other associated elements of a nuclear programme which they have continued to do. My concern with that deal is not so much Iran breaking the deal but the point at which the deal then allows Iran to legitimately have nuclear weapons and I’m sure that is Israel’s concern as well as Trump’s concern and Saudi Arabia’s concern.
Regarding Syria, Israel’s red line is a permanent military presence there. If it wasn’t for the Russian presence then that would not be a big problem for Israel because Israel would deal with an Iranian presence in Syria militarily if it needed to and it wouldn’t have a problem doing so. With the Russians there, that makes it a difficult situation because obviously the Russians have an alliance with the Iranians, their interests aren’t directly aligned but they have an alliance with them and the Russians are not prepared to sit back and allow Israel to strike Iranian military targets in Syria at its will. Also Iran is hell-bent on maintaining and increasing a presence in Syria and turning it into effectively a satellite state of Iran. I wouldn’t say that it is an insoluble problem but it is a very difficult problem that the US is going to find hard to deal with because obviously the US and Israel have closely aligned interests but I don’t think the US would want to provoke Russia in relation to Syria. To an extent it comes down to the Obama administration’s soft line in the whole region that left a vacuum for Russia to fill which has caused enormous problems and facilitated Iran’s actions there as well.
You mentioned that you oppose the Iran nuclear deal, could you elaborate on your views of the deal?
The problem with the Iran deal is that it gives Iran a passport to become a nuclear power and it is a similar set of circumstances that has led North Korea to the situation it is at and of course we know that North Korea and Iran cooperate on nuclear issues. I think we should share concerns about North Korea and Iran because both of those governments are so grossly irresponsible and unaccountable that the idea of them getting their hands on nuclear weapons doesn’t bear thinking about in either case and I would say more Iran than North Korea. I think North Korea is concerning but I think it is quite likely to be constrained by China, but the fanatical ideology of Iran’s leadership is beyond constraint. Lets say there is a nuclear war between Israel and Iran for example. Israel would retaliate with nuclear weapons the Iranian ayatollahs may not care about that and are probably willing to sacrifice a lot of their people in the interests of destroying Israel – a mentality the Western mind cannot comprehend.
And it isn’t just the current regime in Iran that we should stop having nuclear weapons but I think that Iran in institutional terms sees it as its entitlement to be a nuclear armed state and whatever regime takes over from the current one would also pursue nuclear weapons and who knows how responsible it might or might not be.
The other elements of the nuclear deal are the frozen assets which were released to Iran and have enabled them to increase support for the Houthis and other terrorist proxies. I don’t say that they couldn’t have continued to do that without it but their support for Assad in Syria, their operations in Iraq, and their general colonial expansionism around the region has been facilitated by that.
What is your view of Trump de-certifying the Iran deal and Europe’s position on his decision?
Trump is right to decertify it and he should find a way of either discarding the deal altogether or changing it so that it is not as dangerous as it is today. Whichever route is taken the outcome has got to be ending international permission to get to the point where Iran can create nuclear weapons.
In terms of Europe, the governments are not interested in any form of confrontation. In my opinion it would be better to conduct a military strike against Iran than it would to allow Iran to gain nuclear weapons. I wouldn’t advocate war with Iran but that would be better than an outcome which enabled Iran to become a nuclear armed state. But that is not a view that is shared by European governments because they have got to a point where they believe that war cannot be right under any circumstances. If we had the rise of Nazism today we wouldn’t counter it, it would be accepted. And in Europe of course many people think that the trade benefit they get from dealing with Iran is more important that a security issue that they can’t really understand.
As ISIS’ territorial control weakens in Iraq and Syria, where do you predict they will move the capital of their caliphate?
We have not seen the end of ISIS. It will evolve in some way, and there are some signs that the decline of ISIS could help Al-Qaeda. I suspect it is going to be difficult for any of the current jihadist organisations to establish another territorial state. We could see that happening again but I think it will be less likely. Jihadists are increasing their activities in Afghanistan but we can be looking at any ungoverned space and that is why it is so important that the West and our allies in the Middle East and elsewhere do everything we can to monitor what is happening and also to support countries that are under pressure from ISIS or other jihadists. One of the dangers for the West obviously is the dispersal of ISIS fighters back into our own countries and we have seen how that is already happening.
How would you rate the performance of the British government’s response to the terrorism threat?
We in Britain have got a very effective intelligence and police service which has stopped many more planned terrorist attacks than have taken place. There are many jihadists in jail and waiting to be tried. The problem however is not containable with the current policies that we have. I am sure you have heard the different numbers of Jihadists that have been quoted ranging from 3000 to 30,000 . Even the figure of 3,000, it is extremely difficult for any intelligence service in the world to monitor effectively. But if it is 30, 000, it is out of the question. What the government has to do is to make the problem easier for the intelligence organisation. It needs to give it whatever resources it requires and our government has allocated significant resources to this problem. But it also has to make it easier and the way to do that is to first of all prevent those people that have gone out and fought with ISIS from returning. I know it is easier to say that than to do it but where possible they should be stopped from returning. The second thing is that anybody that is not a British citizen needs to be deported out of the country if they are involved in extremist activity. The concern is their human rights. But in my opinion, their human rights are secondary to the human rights of innocent people like you and me who should be able to go about our business without risk of terrorist violence. That will leave a significant number of suspects who can’t be deported because they are British citizens. Again, we need to look at means of controlling their activities whether that is by electronic tagging or putting them in a form of administrative detention. I think you are not going to get rid of everyone like that but you are going to help reduce the problem. Of course, the government’s concern is that this will alienate parts of the Muslim population. But most Muslims say that they don’t support these extremists, so if they don’t support them, they should support the measures that the government takes to stop them. More Muslims in the world get killed from terrorism than non-Muslims.
Do you believe that Theresa May has the political will to adopt these measures?
No, I don’t think she does, and it’s not just her, I think it is all European leaders. They lack the courage and confidence to do it. I know that for a fact because I used to work in this area in the British government so I know that they understand the problem and they know what the solutions are. The problem is that unless they find the political will here and in other European countries the problem just gets worse and I am certain that we will see a backlash. The thing that concerns the government the most is the reaction of Muslim communities to more repressive measures against extremism. What they are going to find if they don’t take effective measures is the problem continues to grow because there is no disincentive for extremists to act the way they act. We take the pain of what they do, they don’t take any pain, so pain needs to be inflicted on them in the form of some of the measures I have mentioned. Otherwise the situation will get worse and there will be backlash from the British people. They will not put up with it. I am in no way condoning that. I think it is a terrible prospect that we see British people attacking Muslims in our country in retribution for the actions of a small number of extremists, but unless the government acts this is what will happen.
MI5 head Andrew Parker recently said that Britain is facing the “worst terror threat I’ve ever seen in 34 years,” and predicted that the weakening of ISIS in Syria and Iraq will increase this threat. What are your impressions of Parker’s comments?
I know Andrew Parker and have worked with him in the past. He is a very capable and level-headed man. He does not exaggerate or panic. If he is saying this, it is because he has made a cool, calm analytical judgement of the situation and I am sure he is right. Terrorists who have been to Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and other countries have got blood on their hands. They have seen death and destruction, they have been trained and equipped, and they have been given direction to come back and attack. They are extremely dangerous. They are far more dangerous than someone who is sitting in their room downloading a recipe to make bombs from the internet. With the hundreds coming back into Britain and into Europe the threat is going to be enormous and it will take on a different dimension. In Britain compared to other European countries it is much more difficult to get hold of serious weaponry and explosives but we have seen how effective a car or a lorry is at driving into a crowd and what people with machetes and axes can do. Once you have seen killing, death and destruction it is much easier to do it yourself again.
The head of MI5 would not make such comments as he has made without the agreement of the Prime Minister. Our government does want people to understand the threats, but I come back to my comment earlier that I just don’t think that beyond allocating resources and making speeches saying ‘enough is enough,’ that the government has got the political will or indeed the courage to make the fundamental changes that are needed. I have worked with all these people and I know that they try their best to do their best but it is so difficult. It is not only a question of riots on the streets or more people getting involved in extremism. That is part of the problem the government rightly worries about, but they also worry about the electoral issue. There are many constituencies that depend on the Muslim vote and any government has to bear that in mind when considering the measures it takes.
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia recently signed a new Military and Security Cooperation Agreement. What is your appraisal of the new deal and how do you think Saudi Arabia and other players in the region can do more in the realm of helping Britain fight terrorism?
They can do more. Cooperation between Britain and Saudi is extremely important. We should be helping Saudi Arabia where we can with the problems that it has in dealing with extremism. And Saudi Arabia should do everything that it possibly can to help us as well. We have similar interests. In my experience, there is a good intelligence relationship between Saudi Arabia and Britain. Saudi Arabia has provided intelligence to Britain to my personal knowledge which has helped to prevent terrorist attacks in this country and that is obviously an important aspect of it. Based on experience I have little doubt that when Saudi Arabia becomes aware of a threat to the UK or any UK interests anywhere in the world it will provide that intelligence to Britain. Saudi Arabia has a track record of de-radicalisation programmes and I know that Britain has learnt from those programmes and has had people go to visit the de-radicalisation centres in Saudi Arabia. Beyond things like advising us, helping us, recommending measures, intelligence, it is hard to say what Saudi could realistically do. The kind of de-radicalisation measures that Saudi takes are very difficult for us to do here because there is an Islamic government in Saudi attempting to deal with extremism among its own religion whereas here we don’t have an Islamic government and we lack the insight and the same kind of religious authority in addressing the problem. No matter how many advisers you get in from Muslim groups, there is that significant difference.