Intelligence Committee Peer wades into Joyce row on Afghanistan

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By SHAUN MILNE

BRITISH security forces have foiled terror attacks running into double figures as a direct results of military engagements in Afghanistan, it was claimed today.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, a long standing member of the Cabinet Office Intelligence and Security Committee, said there was “no doubt” innocent people may have been killed in Britain otherwise.

THREATS: Lord Foulkes warns Afghan campaign vital
THREATS: Lord Foulkes warns Afghan campaign vital

He was speaking just days after fellow Labour politician Eric Joyce stood down as parliamentary private secretary to defence minister Bob Ainsworth, claiming the war in terror could no longer be justified on that argument alone.

Safe

But Lord Foulkes, who addressed members of the Scottish Co-Op Council in Glasgow today (sat), said it was “vital” to remain in theatre for just those reasons – to keep the UK safe.

He said: “People do not know what we on the Intelligence and Security Committee are told.

“They are not given details of our briefings, they are confidential and for very good reason.

“But I can tell you this. There is absolutely no doubt at all that our presence in Afghanistan has prevented further terror attacks here in the UK.”

“Al Quaeda cells are protect by the Taliban in Afghanistan. They help them with sanctuary, equipment and to plan attacks on other countries.”

“Afghanistan has been a safe-house for them.

“Our presence there disrupts that. By defeating the Taliban and by ensuring there is a democratic Government in place with a strong defence force, we are keeping Britain’s streets safe.”

Foiled

Lord Foulkes, who said he had not yet spoken to Joyce since he announced his decision, continued: “People only know of some of the plots we have stopped. But many more have been foiled that they don’t know about.”

Asked if they numbered into double digits, he replied: “Absolutely.”

“Al-Qaeda remains a threat.

“That is why it is vital our work in Afghanistan continues.

“Our presence there, what we are trying to do, is essential to countering the threat of terrorism here in the UK.”

However his comments were at odds to those of another Peer, former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown.

Lord Ashdown, once nominated as an international envoy to Afghanistan in 2008 which was blocked by the Afghan government, told Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have made catastrophic errors.”

“Events are still moving against us in Afghanistan and we have lost a great amount of time in turning things around.”

“We should be asking ourselves a much more brutal question. Can we win it from where we are now?”

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