Article published in The Daily Mirror, 16 November 2015. © Richard Kemp
As they did in Paris on Friday , Islamic State terrorists could attack the UK at any time.
Are we ready?
Our intelligence services do a superb job and have disrupted many attacks planned against us by Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Many jihadists are in jail. But their challenge is enormous.
Andrew Parker, Director General of MI5, recently warned that there are over 3,000 Islamist extremists willing to carry out attacks in the UK.
Few attacks are conducted by terrorists who are completely unknown to our intelligence services. It appears some of those involved in the Paris attacks were on the radar screen of French intelligence.
Surveillance is hugely resource intensive, requiring perhaps a team of 15 to 20 to monitor a single target around the clock. So the thousands of terrorist suspects have to be prioritised and Continue reading
We need to learn lessons from the 2004 Madrid attack
Article published in The Times, 16 November 2015. © Richard Kemp
The 2004 bomb attack in Madrid that killed 191 people was a strategic victory for jihadists that went far beyond the carnage on Spain’s rail network. Al-Qaeda could boast that they had changed the outcome of the general election that followed and forced Spanish troops out of Iraq. This became a cornerstone of propaganda for jihadists everywhere and an incalculable boost for al-Qaeda recruitment and funding.
After Friday’s attack in Paris there will be a desire within France for similar appeasement of Islamic State. We hear already the predictable faint-hearted warnings from those who are terrified of provoking jihadist rage by striking back.
Of course jihadists react violently to aggression against them. But the choice is to fight or to submit to terror. In the face of
blood-lust and subjugation, the cause is worth the casualties. In any case, Isis has declared war on our countries, and will
attack us whatever we do.
It is imperative that France does not succumb to the fear that cowed the Spanish electorate. They should immediately intensify air attacks in Iraq and Syria. But this is not enough. Isis must be eradicated and France cannot do it alone, or with the coalition that has won limited success with half-hearted attacks.
After 9/11 the US invoked Article 5 of the Nato treaty, which calls on every member to aid a nation under armed attack. As Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, said this weekend: “We have been hit by an act of war, organised methodically by a terrorist, jihadist army.” Continue reading
Letter published in The Times, 6 November 2015. © Richard Kemp
For Michael Fallon to call our failure to strike Isis in Syria as well as Iraq “morally indefensible” is an understatement (thetimes.co.uk, Nov 5). It is morally bankrupt for any country to half-heartedly engage in a war. If the government perceives the threat as serious enough to require military force then it must unleash sufficient combat power to defeat the enemy as rapidly as possible and wherever they are. To do otherwise exposes our own citizens at home and abroad to lethal threat, results in increased civilian casualties on the battlefield and adds unnecessary risk to our own fighting forces.
This means greatly intensifying our feeble bombing offensive in Iraq as well as extending the campaign to Syria. If we do not have the courage and the will to do this then we have no right to be using military force at all. Mr Fallon’s estimate that Isis can be defeated in two years is baseless. The time it will take depends on many factors, the most significant being how seriously we are prepared to fight. It is also unnecessary to rely upon speculation about how Flight 9268 was downed this week over Egypt. The threat to our country from Isis is already clear enough, as the director general of MI5 warned only last week.
Interview with Richard Kemp
By Michel Gurfinkiel
French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian recently made an essential statement about the war against terror and the difficulties it involves for Western countries. In an interview with Europe 1 focusing on the French air strikes against the Islamic State, he remarked:
Daesh [ISIS] is organized in such a way that children, women, civilians are being put on front lines. Its leadership is hiding in schools, mosques, hospitals, making the action of the coalition in Iraq and the action of France and other partners in Syria difficult, because we don’t want civilian casualties. We pay as much attention to the targets we select as to the need to combat Daesh.
This is a frank admission of the human shield tactic practiced by Islamists and its crippling effect on Western fighting.
Undoubtedly, Le Drian is aware that the United States and other Western partners in the coalition against ISIS are facing the same challenge, and that Israel faces similar difficulties when counter-attacking organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and Fatah-affiliated terror groups.
What remains to be seen is whether he and the French government, now having this experience with human shields, will reconsider their foreign policy regarding Israel.
We asked Colonel Richard Kemp, the former British commander in Afghanistan and an expert about war ethics, to comment on Le Drian’s no-nonsense statement.
PJM: Do Le Drian’s remarks come as a surprise to you?
Kemp: Not in the least. The Islamic State (ISIS) is adept at using human shields and locations protected under the Geneva Conventions. They are war criminals. The comments by Jean-Yves Continue reading
Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 16 October 2015. © Richard Kemp
US Secretary of State John Kerry has shockingly justified the latest Palestinian murder campaign in Israel. His comments this week at Harvard University will encourage the continuation of violence and lead to further deaths of both Israelis and Palestinians.
Secretary Kerry’s remarks are particularly troubling because it is unimaginable that he would provide such justification other than for the killing of Israelis. His explanation for the widespread knifings, suicide bombings, shootings, arson, firebombings, vehicle attacks and lethal rock-throwing is either naive or mendacious; perhaps both. He asserts that the frustrations of Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank are responsible for the Palestinians’ murderous behaviour. Of course this is nonsense.
The reality is that this new wave of killings is a continuation of the aggression against Jews that has been going on in the territory of Palestine for many decades – since long before the re-establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 and pre-dating the first Israeli settlements in the West Bank that Secretary Kerry falsely brands as illegal. The violence is motivated by the same racist and sectarian zeal that drives the Islamic State and numerous Arab governments and jihadist groups that have sought to eradicate the presence of “infidels,” whether Jews, Christians or Yazidis, from land that they consider the exclusive preserve of Muslims. Continue reading
Vladimir Putin is now calling the shots in Syria, says former commander of forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp
Article published in The Mirror, 3 October 2015. © Richard Kemp
Don’t be fooled by Vladimir Putin’s talk of fighting the Islamic State in Syria.
Russian forces are there for one purpose – to advance Russian interests in the Middle East.
In turn this will help Putin in his quest to restore the country’s global influence and – an added bonus – to humiliate his greatest enemy, the United States.
Swarming in to a vacuum created by American inaction and indecisiveness, Putin is now calling the shots in Syria and intends to do so across the region more widely.
Already Russian generals are “coordinating” in Iraq.
Putin is determined to keep Bashar al Assad in power – or to decide who replaces him. Continue reading
Letter published in The Times, 30 September 2015.
Sir, Help for Heroes has done superb work for our wounded soldiers, sailors and airmen. But reports (Sept 29) that its recovery facilities are underused are of concern and must be explained. The millions of pounds spent on them is a combination of public money and charitable funds, painstakingly raised by huge numbers of dedicated supporters, including many serving and retired members of the armed forces.
There is a strong case for retaining these facilities exclusively for military casualties, both serving and discharged. Those who are wounded in action have specific needs, beyond the strictly clinical. That was heartbreakingly demonstrated in the early days of Iraq and Afghanistan when military hospitals had all been closed, and wounded soldiers straight back from the combat zone were — to their great distress — lumped into crowded wards with civilian patients in an NHS hospital in Birmingham.
There are large numbers of severely wounded former soldiers out there who are neglected by an overburdened NHS that is not set up to understand them or to deal with their unique needs. Either these individuals must be more carefully matched up with Help for Heroes’ recovery facilities, or those facilities must be reshaped to meet the needs of the wounded more effectively.
Colonel Richard Kemp
Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan (2003)
Article published in The Mirror, 5 September 2015.
Two failures by the West are directly responsible for the refugee crisis Europe faces today.
The first was the decision by President Obama to withdraw all US troops from Iraq in 2012.
British forces had already left so we were no longer players.
The consequence of this stampede for the exits was that the successful US strategy that had put al-Qaeda on the backfoot was abandoned.
The door was open to the rise of al-Qaeda’s successors, the Islamic State.
The second failure was the 2013 vote rejecting military intervention. Continue reading
Article published in the Daily Telegraph, 27 August 2015.
By Ben Riley-Smith, Political Correspondent
Another 9/11 attack could come from terrorists in Afghanistan if Western forces stop helping the country’s police keep the peace, Britain’s former commander in the region has warned.
Col Richard Kemp, who headed up the UK’s military involvement in Afghanistan in 2003, said there was a “big danger” the country could once again become a “safe haven for terrorism”.
He warned that the Taliban want to regain control of Afghanistan and said there was a risk Isil could also increase their influence in the region.
It comes after Britain’s withdrawal from Iraq was followed by the advancement of Isil, who took control of large swathes of the country last year.
Barack Obama has pledged to close the remaining America bases in Continue reading
Article published in the Sunday Express, 23 August 2015. © Richard Kemp
JEREMY Corbyn thinks the betrayal of our Armed Forces is a price worth paying to persuade the Labour Party’s disaffected anti-war activists to support his leadership bid.
That is what his proposed apology for the British involvement in the Iraq war would amount to: a betrayal of the 197 British troops killed, the hundreds wounded and the thousands who bravely fought for their country in Iraq. He would not only be telling those troops and their families their sacrifice was for nothing but also their actions were illegal, immoral and dishonourable.
Of course the war remains deeply controversial but Mr Corbyn’s unsubstantiated, rabblerousing declaration that it was illegal does not make it so and Britain’s involvement was not, as he alleges, based on deception.
I was working for the Joint Intelligence Committee at the time of the invasion.
I was not directly involved in the decision making or in the production of the weapons of mass destruction dossier but was aware of the war planning at the top level.
There was an absolute belief among the political and military decision-makers, based on intelligence, that the Iraqi government possessed chemical weapons.
Saddam Hussein’s long-term sponsorship of international terrorism, his regime’s associations with Al Qaeda and his hatred of the West meant the risk that he might transfer chemical weapons to Islamist extremists or use them himself simply could not be taken.