By Mick Krever, CNN
The brutal ISIS killings of two American journalists, and the threat to kill a British hostage, highlight the fact that America and Britain have very little intelligence capability in the country, former UK Security and Counter-Terrorism Minister Pauline Neville-Jones said Wednesday.
“One of the things I think that looking back it was certainly a mistake, was that when both the U.S. and U.K. left Iraq, the intelligence assets were removed at the same time,” she told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour.
“That has meant there is a real hole in our collective knowledge of what’s been going on on the ground.”
“That has to be restored, because, you know, you don’t in the end conduct really successful military operations of any kind in the absence of good intelligence. So that’s urgent, important, and I think it’s underway.”
All eyes are on the U.K. as Western leaders step up their rhetoric on ISIS. Not only is a British national threatened with being the next to die, the executioner of the two American journalists speaks with a London accent in videos released by ISIS.
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday said the U.K. “will not be cowed by these barbaric killers.” U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said America would follow ISIS “to the gates of hell.”
“My belief is that we are getting nearer to the point in which the UK will feel that it is right to up its level of involvement,” Neville-Jones said.
Last summer, British parliament blocked Cameron from striking Syria in response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons. But a year on, with a rash of extremist Brits traveling to wage jihad in Iraq and Syria, Neville-Jones opined that there may be more openness to involvement.
“I think since then the mood has changed in this country. We’re not one actually that’s going to I think back away from international challenges, and from the implications from the terrorist threat that we face.”
“I don’t think it’s a question of boots on the ground, but I think accompanying the U.S. in some kind of military operation – I think there will be increased contribution, and I think an increasingly overt one.”
It is critical, she said, that an international coalition is behind any operation.
The ISIS murders of Westerners does not change how the government will approach the problem, she said, but it does increase the urgency.
“It certainly, I think, stimulates public opinion and makes people realize that when the government talks about a threat, it is real.”
“I hope our special forces will be able to do something about this man’s safety. But this is a brutal organization and he is obviously in very great danger.”