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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 13:37 GMT
Bin Laden will survive bombing - Healey
Lord Healey
Lord Healey: Bombing is alienating Muslims
Labour's former chancellor Lord Denis Healey has called for an end to the US-led bombing of Afghanistan because it "hasn't got any chance" of killing Osama Bin Laden or destroying his al-Qaeda network.

Instead he called for the chief suspect for the 11 September attacks on America to be arrested, using British and US special forces.


The right way to get at Bin Laden, if he is in Afghanistan and nobody is sure he is, is to use the SAS and the American special forces

Lord Healey
Lord Healey said the military campaign - now in its fourth week - was killing "a lot" of innocent civilians while alienating many Muslims and destablising friendly governments in the region.

His warning came as Prime Minister Tony Blair headed for America for talks with President George Bush as both men continue their efforts to shore up the fragile anti-terrorism coalition.

Downing Street said as a respected figure Lord Healey's views had to be "taken account of" - but there was no alternative to the military action.

Lord Healey - who served as defence secretary between 1964 and 1970 - told BBC Radio 4's Today programme why he believed the bombing of Afghanistan should end.

"It is killing a lot of innocent women and children. That humanitarian argument I think is overwhelming."

Terrorists being created

He went on: "But the political argument is equally strong. It hasn't got any chance whatever of killing Bin Laden or destroying his al-Qaeda movement.

"It is in fact creating more terrorists, turning more people throughout the Muslim world against the West.

"And it is undermining governments which are presently friendly to the West and which it is very important to keep on-side, particularly the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan."

"Al-Qaeda has an international network of terrorists and the right way to go for them is to arrest them - and the right way to get at Bin Laden, if he is in Afghanistan and nobody is sure he is, is to use the SAS and the American special forces."

'No alternative'

Geoff Hoon, Labour's current defence secretary, said: "I am a great admirer of Lord Healey and I have followed very carefully what he has had to say."

But he added that it was a hallmark of democracies like Britain that Lord Healey could publicly voice such criticism, while in Afghanistan "frankly people are killed for expressing their views in that way".

A spokesman for prime minister Tony Blair said "Denis Healey remains a very respected figure and his views have to been taken account of seriously.

"Equally, however, there is actually no alternative. There is an active terrorist threat. It has to be dealt with."

The campaign was not just a military one, the spokesman went on, as diplomatic and political avenues were also being pursued.


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See also:

07 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Blair prepares for Bush talks
06 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Bin Laden's death 'will not end attacks'
05 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Defeating terror 'vital for economy'
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