Eliza Manningham-Buller: "9/11 was a crime, not an act of war"

Deputy of MI5


On the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the United States on 11 September, the former director-general of MI5 reflects on the lasting significance of that day. Was it a "terrorist" crime, an act of war or something different? She offers a unique perspective on the event, its impact on the world and the repercussions which are still being felt today.

The BBC censorship has been lenient. Grey Owl has had a long post accepted and there is an interesting comment by Mike Ellis.



And I call it a crime, not an act of war. Terrorism is a violent tool used for political reasons to bring pressure ongovernments by creating fear in the populace. In the same way, I have never thought it helpful to refer to a "war" on terror, any more than to a war on drugs. For one thing that legitimises the terrorists as warriors; for another thing terrorism is a technique, not a state. Moreover terrorism will continue in some form whatever the outcome, if there is one, of such a "war". For me what happened was a crime and needs to be thought of as such. What made it different from earlier attacks was its scale and audacity, not its nature.