Ex CIA-chief hits out over policy on Middle East

David Cameron and Barack Obama "don't have a clue" about dealing with the war on terror, a former senior member of the CIA said yesterday.

Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, said western politicians had to accept the conflict in the Middle East was caused by US foreign policy. He said that Osama bin Laden and organisations such as al-Qaeda were fighting a war against US imperialism rather than a war on western culture.

"I'm afraid listening to Mr Cameron this week, there's not a clue about what's going down in the western world," he said.

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"They can't cope with the fact that it's nothing to do with the way we live. It doesn't have anything to do with elections or democracy or liberty.

"We are being attacked in the west and we will continue to be attacked in the west as long as we are in Afghanistan, as long as we support the Israelis, as long as we protect the Saudi police state.

"Yet we hear the president, we hear your Prime Minister, talking about thugs and gangsters. We are still in the starting blocks in this war.

"The main recruitment sergeant for al-Qaeda is Barack Obama because his speech on the May 19 was a declaration of cultural war on Islam."

Mr Scheuer, who was speaking at the Hay-on-Wye Book Festival, is a controversial figure in intelligence and political circles.

He left the bin Laden unit two years before September 11 but was called back as an adviser in the wake of the terrorist attack.

Mr Scheuer described his experiences in his book Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terrorism.

When asked what advice he would give Mr Obama, he said: "I would ask him to tell the truth."

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"He, the first Mr Bush, then Mr Clinton and the second Mr Bush have assiduously lied to the American people for 20 years and as a result have made the relations in the United States between Muslims and other people much more difficult."