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Thursday, 20 September, 2001, 23:20 GMT 00:20 UK
Blair targets world terrorism
Bin Laden supporters in Pakistan
Tony Blair said there was "no doubt" Bin Laden was the prime suspect
Prime Minister Tony Blair has insisted that the war against terrorism extends beyond targeting the Saudi-born dissident Osama Bin Laden.

Mr Blair told the BBC that the aim of the world coalition being built in response to the suicide attacks on the United States was to shut down the entire apparatus of international terrorism.

Speaking en route to a memorial service for British victims in New York, he insisted Britain would not flinch from military action in the effort to bring those responsible to account.


We need patience, care and determination

Tony Blair
The prime minister said it was a testing time for world leaders, but an even more difficult time for those who would carry out the action on the ground.

"We are extremely lucky in Britain to have some of finest armed forces anywhere in world," he said.

"But it is important that we get the decision right and make sure the action we take is effective."

Mr Blair said there was no doubt Bin Laden was the prime suspect, but he refused to detail the evidence against him.

Extended campaign

He added that people should realise the military effort was about more than bringing in one man.

It would be a long campaign, he said, which would go on to target the wider aspect of international terrorism - including those responsible for training, financing and protecting terrorists.

Terrorist groups have been acting out of Afghanistan for several years, Mr Blair told the BBC.

Nairobi
Bin Laden is accused of involvement in embassy bombings in Africa
"People have been trained for terrorist acts around the world," he said.

"The atrocity in the United States of America may have been the most serious, but there have been other terrorist acts that these people have committed.

"We have to shut down that entire apparatus of terrorism. Otherwise they will commit further atrocities."

Mr Blair said the terrorist groups would acquire chemical, biological or nuclear weapons capability if they could.

"The only limit on their action is a technical limit and that is why we have to take away that organisation capability that they have to act."

Muslim support

Mr Blair echoed President George W Bush's warning that people harbouring or helping the terrorists were also responsible and would be stopped.

The prime minister, who was travelling with a copy of the Koran, said every other leader he had spoken to understood the necessity "not to flinch from action".

He said the solidarity included support from Iranian President Mohammed Khatami.

The action taken by terrorist fanatics was abhorred by the majority of Muslims, he added.

"Their desire is perhaps a war between Islam and the West; to wreck the peace process in the Middle East; to have divisions between nations in the world based on a misreading of the Koran and a misinterpretation of the true Islamic faith," he told the BBC.

"People of all faiths, including the vast majority of decent, law abiding Muslims, want to see this action against terrorism taken."


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16 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Britain 'at war with terrorism'
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