Blair Decries 'Evil Ideology' of Terrorism
JENNIFER LUDDEN, host:
Today Britain's prime minister, Tony Blair, rejected suggestions that the London bombings last week were tied to Britain's foreign policy. He called terrorism an evil ideology. Blair's government has released details of new anti-terror legislation and the police have now confirmed the identities of all four bombers. NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from London.
ANTHONY KUHN reporting:
Speaking to his Labor Party's National Policy Forum in London, Prime Minister Blair called the fight against terrorism a global struggle for hearts and minds.
Prime Minister TONY BLAIR (Britain): This is the battle that must be won. A battle not just about terrorist methods, but their views. Not just their barbaric acts, but their barbaric ideas. Not only what they do but what they think and the thinking that they would impose on others.
KUHN: But at the same conference, Labor Party Member of Parliament John McDonnell said that Britain's role in the occupation of Iraq was helping terrorists to recruit young men into its bombing teams, a viewpoint common among some British Muslims. Blair rejected any such linkage and called on Britons to confront extremism.
Prime Min. BLAIR: Their cause is not founded on an injustice. It is founded on a belief. One whose fanaticism is such that it can't be moderated. It can't be remedied. It has to be stood up to.
KUHN: Blair's government is encouraging British Muslims to police their own communities and root out extremists. Britain's top Asian police officer, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur emphasized that just condemning the attacks was not enough.
Assistant Commissioner TARIQUE GHAFFUR (Metropolitan Police): What we've got to realize, the community has got to realize is that amongst the community itself, there are people who have been radicalized. There are people whose beliefs are so strong that it leads them to commit acts of this magnitude, and the community now has to take ownership of that problem and start to identify who these people are.
KUHN: The government has also detailed proposed new anti-terror legislation. One measure would target acts preparatory to terrorism so security forces could stop terrorist plots before they're carried out. Home Office Minister Hazel Blears, in charge of counterterrorism, described the other measures.
Ms. HAZEL BLEARS (Home Office Minister): Secondly, a new criminal offense of indirect incitement to terrorism where people are glorifying terrorism with the intention of stirring up people to do this kind of activity. And thirdly, both receiving and carrying out training in terrorist techniques.
KUHN: The Metropolitan Police today released a picture from a video camera for the first time showing all four bombers together. In it, Hasib Hussain, Shehzad Tanweer, Germaine Lindsey and Mohammed Sidique Khan are seen entering the Luton train station en route to London to carry out their attacks. Khan's family issued a statement earlier today saying they were devastated to learn that their son had been brainwashed into committing such an act. This followed similar remarks by Hasib Hussain's family on Friday. Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, London.