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The British release files on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the hijacking of the plane

The British release files on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the hijacking of the plane

According to the documents, the British ambassador to Kuwait informed the headquarters in London that the invasion had only just begun, but the information was not passed on to the British Airways authorities and that later governments hid this omission.

British Airways flight BA149 took off from London on August 1, 1990 at 6:40 local time with a two-hour delay. On the way to the destination Malaysia, stops are planned in Kuwait and India. As the declassified files show, around midnight on 1 and 2 August, the British ambassador called an on-duty Foreign Office employee and informed him of the start of the invasion of Kuwait. Transferred to the Middle East Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the then Prime Minister’s Office Margaret ThatcherAnd defense and intelligence, but not for British Airways.

The plane landed in Kuwait on August 2 early this morning. Less than an hour later, Iraqi forces closed the airport and suspended passengers and crew. There were 385 people on board – 367 passengers, not only British, and 18 crew members. During the following weeks, they were used as hostages by the Iraqi authorities.

Hostage abuse

A large percentage of them were subjected to physical and psychological abuse, for example, their execution was simulated, held in conditions close to starvation, some women were sexually assaulted, and some were forced to take propaganda photos with Saddam.

In the end, the Iraqi authorities released all but one of the Kuwaiti nationals shot by the Iraqis – some a few weeks later, most recently in late mid-December 1990, but many of the hostages later developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Minister apologizes

The mere fact that the plane landed in occupied Kuwait and the taking of the passengers hostage was clearly known, but for the first time it was revealed that the ambassador had warned of the invasion and its course could have been changed if the information had been passed on to British Airways.

– This file shows that the ambassador’s phone call was not disclosed to Parliament and the public. This neglect was unacceptable. The current Secretary of State, Liz Truss, said in her capacity as the current Secretary of State, I apologize to the House of Commons and express my deepest sympathy to those who have been arrested and mistreated.

She indicated that at that time there were no communication procedures between government officials and airlines for such situations, and they exist today. It also denied long-standing suspicions that there was a group of British agents on board the ship, who were to be transferred to Kuwait in this way. There is no information about this in the declassified file.

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