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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 August 2005, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Your views: Global terror threat
Osama bin Laden's lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahri has warned London will face more attacks because of Tony Blair's foreign policy decisions.

Ayman al-Zawahri
Osama bin Laden's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri
His comments were made in a videotape which was broadcast on Arab satellite channel al-Jazeera four weeks after the attacks on the capital that left 52 people dead.

How should the Government respond to Al Qaeda's threats?
Has the war in Iraq provoked the attacks?

How do you think the media - including Newsnight - has handled reporting these events? Do you think it is right to interview people who sympathise with Al Qaeda's aims? Do you think the media should interview people who have supported suicide bombings in Israel?

The e-mails published on this page reflect the balance of opinion received.


Human rights are more important than the wishes of any government. It is highly dangerous to suggest that judges are wrong to strike down government "terror laws" which infringe human rights norms - if anything it takes the judges far too long to do so! Some of the people denounced as "praising suicide bombers" have been quoted (or misquoted) out of context, and have measured, thoughtful contributions to make. The BBC must not be afraid to interview such people and to extend the debate beyond the intellectual range of tabloid journalism. If we don't give Muslims a plural voice then al-Jazeera will.
Joe Norman, Clevedon, N.Somerset

The government reacts strongly when terrorists kill 52 people in one day, but the tobacco industry kills between two and three hundred people per day. Aren't we losing a sense of proportion?
Dudley Hammond, London

Isn't it ironic that following the first attacks in London the government praised the stoicism of the people of London before proceeding to attempt the abrogation of every principle of democracy it could get away with? I wonder if at the outset of WW2 the British people had been given the choice of surrendering their democratic freedoms, or risking their lives in the defence of those freedoms we would have ever attempted the liberation of Europe from Nazi hegemony.

It is said in war one has a tendency to become like ones enemy. Lets not forget who our enemy is in this putative "war on terror"; otherwise we may find that it doesn't take suicide bombers to destroy democracy, over zealous, frightened demagogues in the British Parliament can do it just as well.
Dave, Scarborough

Am I alone in finding it difficult to see the moral distinction between those who sought to bully a stubborn government to admit it was wrong and withdraw its troops from foreign soil by deliberately killing innocent civilians 60 years ago at Hiroshima and recent events in London?
Ian Briant, London

Thank you, Newsnight. It was refreshing to hear the truth from their own mouths about UK based extremists & their aims. As repulsive as these individuals are (I was very angry by the end of the piece - a true measure of any piece of good topical journalism) it is important that all British society sees & hears these people. Only by having the whole picture can we decide how to counter this new breed of fascism.
Roger, Whitwick

I thought the showing of the two extremist was a masterful piece of programming, well done Newsnight for highlighting that these extremists are now peddling their bile in Britain. It is about time British eyes were opened to the fact that extremists do not hail from Afghanistan or Iraq but are home-grown.
Joan Davis, Stratford, London

"Our Way of Life" as Tony Blair puts it consists of democracy, freedom, human rights, freedom to believe what you want, freedom to say and write what you want, the right to have a fair trial, and the right not to be locked up without charge.

By making laws that throw away the principles of "Our Way of Life" - which we hold dear and are part of our civilised society - "They" have already won. We have already compromised... we have already "given an inch" to "them".
Charles, Manchester

As a practical suggestion to contain the damage threatening all sides from terrorism is to exclude innocent civilians of all sides from being used as legitimate targets in conflicts. An international declaration at this stage is useful. Al-Qaeda could not refuse it because if they do, they lose the moral grounds which provide them with the recruits and other financial support. It will also show that the West cares about human lives be it Muslim or Christian or any other religion.

It is not enough to say that terrorists hide among civilians to justify mass obliteration of whole civilian areas in order to put an end to insurgencies. We know that neither the people of Fallujah, nor of Tora Bora can tell rebels to stop using their territories. An armed teenager could have more say in any place than a whole community. All sides need such an agreement, most of all big economic centres like London or New York.
Nizar Abboud, United Kingdom

People who support al-Qaeda's aims have no right to be interviewed. Such people are merciless and believe primarily in violence and killing. How can you respect a person who believes in ideology that does not uphold the sanctity of human life? Killing people randomly and mercilessly does not make any sense. Enough is enough.
Justin, St John's, Newfoundland, Canada

Watching the news tonight you reported the new hard-line policies Tony Blair plans to bring in, and on the opposing view about the human rights of the people they are considering returning to their homeland. I have yet to hear anybody mention the human rights of people to be able go to work, shop, school and travel on a bus or train without the fear of being blown up killed or maimed.
Peter Crellin, Middlesbrough

The liberal left view is constantly aired by Newsnight and Channel 4 News and mirrors the pre-war attitude of the pacifist movement to fascist Italy and Germany.
Rod Brownlie, Lancaster

We are fortunate to live in a country where we can discuss these issues openly. We are fortunate that we live in a country where the death of a person at the hands of the police instigates an investigation. This, of course, will not bring back a life, or lessen a family's grief. However it does mean that his life was of worth and that even in these troubled times the police are accountable.

It is the values of this country that we have to adhere to in these most exceptional circumstances. We have to ensure that these values are not eroded. We can all try to justify our actions, however, how many throughout the world can hold their hands up and claim to be blameless? It is my hope that our diverse communities can unite at this time, as British Londoners, to work towards a solution and reach understanding.
June Cummings

If you decide to interview extremists from one side then you should interview extremists from the other. I feel that those who supported suicide bombers should never have been aired as all it does is make the blood boil of youths who then go out and respond with violence and racism.
Stephen McConnell, Inverness

We are constantly being told by the Muslim community that these extremists do no represent Islam. Isn't it about time then that senior Muslim leaders went on al-Jazeera TV and renounced fully the evil of men like bin Laden and al-Zawahri, thus alienating these dark icons from the very people that they are trying to manipulate?
Ian Nutt, Maidstone Kent

I believe that all political sides of the argument should be aired and I congratulate the BBC's Newsnight for broadcasting the various viewpoints in an open way. Personally, I can't condemn the attacks because I believe that they were avoidable and provoked. We are missing the point if we assume that it is just Iraq that has caused this outpouring of hate. It is western/US policy towards Muslim countries and the third world over the past decade and a half. The collateral damage (because we are in a theatre of war) sustained on 7/7 was a result of western policies such as torture, detention without trial, lying and hegemony. If these are the values we are seeking to protect and export al-Zawahri's militant Islam have already won.
Steve S, London

The official response to the UK attacks looks very competent from this distance. This must be reassuring for a UK public that has shown itself to be not without a measure of resolve. They say it takes about a generation to beat a serious group of terrorists. In the circumstances your children will not be reading about these events in history books but rather living them and wondering why folly was so seductive to political leaders in the early 2000s. I think Newsnight has been way ahead of everyone else in it's coverage of the attacks. Mark Urban's concise reports are essential viewing. Please don't be tempted to dumb down your coverage. Interviewing people who are sympathetic to terrorists is justifiable if done responsibly. We remember how Mrs Thatcher and the Irish Government tried to stop members of Sinn Fein/IRA being interviewed in the eighties. Actors provided voiceovers for the interviewees-it just made a nonsense of the law and allowed Sinn Fein/IRA to play the victim.
Greg Hewson, Dublin, Ireland

We often justify wars to defend democracy and free speech. It is therefore inexcusable to censor the opinions of those we don't agree with. The BBC should have no qualms about interviewing people who support al-Qaeda. It is essential to understand the reasons and motives of all categories of aggressors and what better manner than by public interviews of the supporters, especially in the Newsnight cross-examination style.
Sam Rancrowley, Liverpool

The key solution is by respecting the UN, and not to follow cowboyism in international affairs. This starts with a better understanding of the origin of terrorism and a global definition. Israel has, thanks to western support, always ignored the UN. There is a price for that. I do not think the British should pay it.
Nizar Abboud

I think it is imperative that we hear the other side - ie sympathisers of al-Qaeda etc. You can't defeat an enemy unless you know him and understand why he thinks the way he does. If my homeland was occupied and I was forced to live like a rat it wouldn't take a lot to convince me to strap on a suicide vest and go to my maker where I have been promised a better life after death. I remember in Catholicism classes being told "no greater love is there than he who lays down his life for his fellow man" - not unlike the suicide bomber who believes that giving his life will improve the life of his fellow man.
Lydia Dupont, Brisbane

Every era of history has clearly shown us that no war has EVER been won through battle alone. The peace has always been through negotiations and discussion. War, in fact, does not force people to the negotiating table, but makes the path to it longer and more arduous. So let us all, populations, their politicians and media talk and discuss the troubles with all those concerned, no matter how distasteful and painful this might be today and that applies to ALL the parties involved.
Nish, Brussels

As the Hutton Report found, British Intelligence service experts such as David Kelly warned that if we invaded Iraq, we would suffer more terrorism. Surely Tony Blair should stop wasting millions and close MI5 and MI6 if the government decides it knows best. Alternatively, if we share the real world view that Blair has to do what Bush tells him, he should resign now. And we should withdraw troops from Iraq and put in Arab League troops under the charge of the UN.
Mike Foster, Worcester

The only losers in all this are the innocent people. I think the politicians should start thinking about what's good or safe for the people rather than keeping a stubborn view. They should remember real human beings are loosing their lives. As a Muslim I strongly oppose anything al-Qaeda does and I condemn any act of terrorism. However, I don't see how Mr Blair and Mr Bush can differentiate between innocent people killed by terrorists in the UK and the USA and those killed by soldiers in Iraq!
Hakim Sadouk, London

The government should attend to home security and also seek reconciliation with moderate Muslims worldwide. The Iraq invasion was a mistake and bound to have contributed to Muslim resentment of the West. It may be possible to interact with the Middle East in a less culturally intrusive way. The Government should adopt an even-handed approach to Israel/Palestine. BBC reporting is generally balanced, responsible and seeking to understand the events. It is right to cover all viewpoints including al-Qaeda sympathisers. The public can draw their own conclusions and an informed public will help to push the politicians to make wise decisions on our behalf.
Andrew Norman, St Albans

Tony Blair should resign now admitting that he lied to us about the reasons for the war, and that this engagement has increased the danger to UK citizens. That said, we probably have to stay in Iraq until some stability is reached. But it should be made clear that we have no long-term plans for a presence in the area. Some honesty, some penitence might go a long way towards establishing trust.
Ann Dowling, Manchester

Al-Qaeda's statement also said: "You will not dream of security until we live it as a reality in Palestine." So, after we have withdrawn from Iraq will we expect Israel to appease al-Qaeda by kindly ceasing to exist?
Shay Goss, Halifax

We should withdraw from Iraq. The West had no moral highground to "free" Iraq from dictatorship when our governments had supported Saddam Hussein for decades. The US presence in Iraq continues the same strategy of looking after US geo-political and economic interests in a new form: namely imposition of a free market "democracy" in which US corporations have pride of place. The Bremmer decrees which covered economic policy, foreign policy and crime have already locked the country into the US's preferred path of development. Some democracy. Above all, a clear majority of Iraqi people seem to want the troops to leave. As for Newsnight's coverage, it falls to the programme and all serious media outlets to not only sustain public debate but also expand the range of voices allowed to speak in the public domain.
Michael Wayne & Deirdre O'Neill, London

I didn't support the war in Iraq and I think Tony Blair was misguided at best to have involved this country in an unjust war. History has proved that getting involved in Middle East politics has always been disastrous. I would agree, however, that it was only a matter of time before we became targets anyway. For too long we have allowed extremist groups to exist that have been banned in many countries around the world. We need to fight back against their lies and historical falsehoods.
Steve Bouch, London


If you have a complaint about Newsnight or any other BBC programme or service please go to the BBC Complaints Website.

Feedback - August 2005
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