Government missed chance prevent 1990 Kuwait hostage crisis, new dossier reveals

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The government is facing severe criticism and the prospect of legal action after admitting that it had failed to pass on vital information that led to hundreds of British citizens being taken hostage by Saddam Hussein. It is possible.

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Thirty-one years after Flight 149, with 367 passengers on board, was seized by Iraqi forces in Kuwait, secret official documents showed that an urgent message from the British ambassador that the country had been invaded was sent to British Airways. was not passed. The warning would have given the airline a chance to divert the plane.

The flight to Kuwait City and captives by Iraqis continued. The passengers were detained for five months and used as human shields. Some of them were abused, sexually abused and kept in critical condition with little food. Many said they had witnessed the atrocities being perpetrated by Iraqi forces. Some were used in a media propaganda exercise by the Baghdad regime, with an image of Saddam as a frightened young British boy, receiving widespread international coverage.


Files just released show that the warning to the Foreign Office came from Sir Michael Weston, the then British ambassador to Kuwait. The message was sent to Downing Street, the Ministry of Defense and MI6, but not to British Airways, despite the government knowing about the flight.

The government later insisted to passengers, parliamentarians and the media that all relevant material relating to the matter has been made public.

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Liz Truss said in a statement to the Commons on Monday: “The call made by HMA Kuwait has not been publicly disclosed or acknowledged to date. These files show that the existence of the call has been shown to Parliament and to the public.” This failure was unacceptable. As the current Secretary of State, I apologize to the House for this, and I express my deepest sympathies to those who were detained and abused .

Despite the apology, the government insisted that it was only the Iraqi regime that was to blame for what happened to the passengers.

The Foreign Secretary said, “The Government has always condemned the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the suffering that followed and the abuse of those living abroad BA149. The responsibility for these incidents and the misbehavior with the passengers and crew that took place at that time is entirely of the Government of Iraq.

However, senior Whitehall officials admitted privately that they expected passengers, many of whom suffered PTSD from their own experience, and that their families may consider taking legal action.

Sixty French nationals aboard the flight received compensation of around £50,000 from BA and undisclosed payments have been made to American passengers. A case brought by British hostages was technically dismissed by the House of Lords.

However, the focus of any future lawsuit is expected to focus on its failure to warn against the government.

British Airways said: “Our hearts go out to all those who were caught up in this shocking act of war 30 years ago, and who had to endure a truly horrific experience. These records confirm that British Airways Wasn’t warned about the attack.”

The BA149 took off from London on 1 August 1990 at 18:04. At midnight, while it was still en route, Sir Michael told the resident clerk at the Foreign Office – the officer who dealt with emergencies – that an Iraqi incursion was taking place. ,

The ambassador’s warning was revealed by documents released by the Foreign Office. Files of the flight, held by the Ministry of Defense and, it is believed, the Department of Transport, have not yet been made public.

There were frequent and detailed reports that the BA 149 was deliberately allowed to continue into Kuwait City while other flights were being diverted, as Special Forces was on a mission.

It is claimed that the flight took off late, this was to allow soldiers to board a secret mission. A BBC documentary in 2007 included an interview with a former SAS soldier who said that he and his team were aboard Flight 149 on an intelligence gathering mission in Kuwait.

Previous governments have denied this. Ms Truss cited a statement from ministers in 2007 that “the government at the time did not attempt to exploit the flight in any way whatsoever”.

In 1992, in response to questions raised by Deputy Labor leader John Prescott, Prime Minister John Major said: “I can confirm that there were no British military personnel on board the flight.” Addressing the issue of permission to continue the flight to Kuwait City, Mr. Major said: “I am satisfied that there was no negligence or oversight on the part of the Government. Accordingly, I am aware of the circumstances regarding this incident.” There is no intention to set up an investigation.”

One of the passengers, who was detained by Iraqis for four-and-a-half months, and says he was threatened at gunpoint, announced that he refused to accept the government apology and was also reassured. There was a cover-up going on.

Barry Manners, 24, was on the plane with his partner when, he said, a group of men arrived late in incongruous-looking sports clothing. They were, he believed, soldiers.

Mr Manners, a Kent businessman, said: “It’s a lie. I’m surprised they’re still saying that. The evidence must be so refutable. If the government was using British Airways as a de facto military transport, come clean and accept it.

“I live in the real world, I’m not a snowflake – if they pulled us into a room and said: ‘So sorry, we had to do this, it’s a year to pay income tax and here’s the British There’s a gold card to Airways. ‘Keep your gob off’, I’d say ‘fair enough’. When people lie to me, I get upset. So, no, I don’t accept an apology. It’s a swindle Is.”

Speaking of the group flying late, Mr Manners continued: “Who on earth were they then? Members of a rugby team?

“These were serious people, you just had to see them. I am…


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