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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Blair puts case against Bin Laden
Wreckage at the site where the World Trade Center stood
The atrocities have changed the diplomatic climate
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair says the evidence leaves "no doubt" that Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network were responsible for the terror attacks on the US.

He made the comments to the House of Commons, and later made available a document to MPs and journalists which he said revealed as much evidence as possible without compromising security efforts.

Evidence against Bin Laden
"Close associates" warned to return to Afghanistan by 10 September
"Known associates" named date for action as on/around 11 September
One of "closest and most senior associates" now known to be responsible for detailed planning of attacks
Three of the 19 suicide hijackers linked to al-Qaeda
"We have absolutely no doubt that Bin Laden and his network were responsible for the attacks," said Mr Blair.

He was addressing Parliament on Thursday before flying to Moscow, where he has arrived for talks with President Vladimir Putin about the terror crisis. He will then visit Pakistan.

Describing the evidence as "overwhelming", Mr Blair said the attacks bore all the hallmarks of a Bin Laden operation, including meticulous long-term planning and a desire to inflict mass casualties.

Of the 19 terrorists identified from passenger lists on the hijacked flights used in the atrocities, three were "known associates" of Bin Laden and one had played a key role in some of his earlier attacks on US targets.

Other associates had also been forewarned to return to Afghanistan before the strikes while one of Bin Laden's closest lieutenants had said he helped plan the attacks and had admitted al-Qaeda's involvement.

Humanitarian aid 'vital'

The prime minister said Bin Laden was able to operate with impunity because of his alliance with Afghanistan's ruling Taleban regime, which must give up the terrorists "or become our enemy also".

He emphasised that the vast majority of Muslims condemned totally last month's attacks.

Getting humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan was as vital as military action, which would not be taken for revenge, he stressed.

Tony Blair speaks to the Commons on Thursday
Blair: Evidence is "overwhelming"
Concluding his statement, Mr Blair said: "We act for justice, we act with world opinion behind us and we are absolutely determined to see justice done and this evil of mass international destruction defeated."

The published evidence document says only Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network had the motive and the capability to have launched such an attack which, the document says, must have been approved by Bin Laden himself.

Replying to questions in a Commons appearance that spanned more than an hour, he said there were no easy options.

"We are now approaching the difficult time when action is taken."

Blair backed

While anti-war protestors brought a petition to the Commons before the debate, the vast majority of MPs backed Mr Blair's stance.

Responding to the prime minister's statement, Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith told MPs: "I am convinced that Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taleban are guilty as charged.

"Any war against these people is a just war."

Iain Duncan Smith
Mr Duncan Smith said it was a "just war"
Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy called the evidence he had seen against Bin Laden "persuasive".

But speaking later to BBC Radio 4's World at One, Mr Kennedy warned against going into Afghanistan "with all guns blazing", forceably removing the Taleban and perhaps rooting out terrorist bases and then leaving "because there will be a humanitarian catastrophe in such circumstances".

Speaking during the flight to Russia, Mr Blair's spokesman said the prime minister welcomed the responses of both Mr Duncan Smith and Mr Kennedy in the Commons, having briefed both fully in advance.

Earlier the Pakistan government said it had seen American evidence against Bin Laden that was "certainly" sufficient for indictment in a court of law.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told the World at One the Pakistani evaluation was "very helpful".

The BBC's John Pienaar
"Tony Blair delivered his verdict of guilt"
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
addresses the emergency meeting of the House of Commons
Michael Emerson, Centre for European Policy Studies
explains what Blair might be hoping to achieve by his visit to Moscow
The BBC's Fiona Werge
"The diplomatic offensive continues"

Key stories


War view



See also:

04 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Blair statement in full
04 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Duncan Smith Commons speech in full
04 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Kennedy speech in full
03 Oct 01 | Europe
Analysis: Putin looks West
04 Oct 01 | UK Politics
The UK's Bin Laden dossier in full
04 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Blair hardens public against Bin Laden
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