The Secret War On Terror reveals the astonishing inside story of the intelligence war which has been fought against Al Qaeda over the last decade, since 9/11.
With unparalleled access to Western intelligence and law-enforcement agencies and with a host of exclusive interviews with those who have been at the sharp end of fighting the terrorists – from the CIA and the FBI to MI5 – Peter Taylor asks whether the West is winning and whether we are any safer from attack. The series includes the first television interview with the former Director General of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller, and an extensive interview with the recent Director of the CIA, General Michael Hayden.
The documentaries are set against the backdrop of the major events of the period – the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Bali, Madrid and London; the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq; and the scandals of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
In the name of national security, some intelligence agencies have either resorted to – or allegedly been complicit in – coercive interrogation techniques and the torture of some Al Qaeda suspects.
The United States has undertaken targeted killings, abductions and secret prisons – so-called CIA “black sites”. In recent years, the secret war has entered a new phase with unmanned drone aircraft – known as “Predators” – targeting leading Al Qaeda figures with deadly Hellfire missiles.
The first programme investigates how, in the desperate need to prevent a second wave of attacks, increasingly harsh interrogation techniques were devised. There are exclusive interviews with the two FBI Special Agents who conducted the first interrogation of a so-called “high value detainee”. The agents discovered game-changing intelligence before the CIA began its new “enhanced interrogation techniques” that included water boarding and confinement in a “dog box”.
The programme also hears new claims of torture and allegations of British complicity in it. But it also sees how Western intelligence becomes increasingly knowledgeable about Al Qaeda and starts to effectively disrupt major terrorist plots.
The programme ends with the tragedy of 7/7, when Al Qaeda-trained terrorists managed to plant four bombs in the heart of London. And it reveals new information which suggests perhaps more could have been done to prevent the attacks.
Monday 14 March
9.00-10.00pm BBC TWO