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Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK
Blair defiant over terror threat
The aftermath of the bombing in Indonesia
The aftermath of the bombing in Indonesia
Tony Blair has told MPs that the Bali bombing was "an act of pure wickedness" and a "fresh reminder" that the fight against terrorism was not over.

Thirty three Britons are among nearly 200 who died in the terror attack on the holiday island at the weekend.

The threat to all people, at any time, at any place in the world is real

Tony Blair

The statement from the prime minister came as two Indonesian men were being "intensively questioned" by police investigating the bombing in Bali.

The prime minister said he hoped to speak to Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri later on Tuesday and would offer the UK's help in the investigation.

Mr Blair told MPs that although there was no specific intelligence relating to the attack, there were extremists active in the region, some of which have strong links with al-Qaeda.

He said it was wrong to suggest that the international community could not deal with threats on two fronts - from Iraq and with terrorism.

"The threat to all people, at any time, at any place in the world is real," Mr Blair warned.

"The war on terrorism is indeed a war, but of a different sort to the ones we are used to.

"Its outcome, however, is as important as any we have fought before."


Mr Blair said the UK was considering a ban on the Jemaah Islamiah group, which is suspected of involvement in the weekend's attack.

Tony Blair
Action needs to be considered following the blast, says Blair
He said the evidence against the group was currently being assessed and there was no known link with Britain.

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith welcomed Mr Blair's statement.

He said the bombing showed that the "nightmare" of 11 September had become "a living reality".

And, he stressed: "Bali cannot be used as a pre-text for letting Saddam off the hook."


Charles Kennedy, for the Liberal Democrats, called for a breathing space to "take stock" of the so-called "war on terrorism".

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He asked the prime minister: "If there is to be a war against Iraq, would that increase or decrease the likelihood of further international terrorist incidents of the type we have just seen?"

Mr Kennedy also cautioned against unqualified support for the Indonesian military, warning that there was "at least the possibility" of links between the army and Islamic terrorists.

'Threat' of extremism

In his Commons statement, Mr Blair said: "Some say that we should fight terrorism alone and that issues to do with weapons of mass destruction are a distraction. I reject that entirely.

"Both, though different in means, are the same in nature.

"Both are threats from people or states who do not care about human life, who have no compunction about killing the innocent.

"Both represent the extreme replacing the rational, the fanatic driving out moderation.

Enlarge image
Enlarge image

Aerial view of the devastation
"Both are intent not on letting people live in peace with each other, celebrate our diversity, and work out our differences in an orderly way, but on producing such chaos and disorder that out of it comes a world in which religions and nations and peoples fight each other for supremacy."

Under questioning from MPs, Mr Blair said unless the world tackled "both threats" together, at some point they "could come together in a horrific way."

US 'determination'

Earlier on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw discussed the Bali bombing and the Iraq crisis in talks in Washington with Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Mr Straw said the world faced a triple threat - from weapons of mass destruction, rogue and failed states, and international terrorism.

"If we want a safer and more peaceful world, we have to address and deal with all three threats together," Mr Straw said.

Mr Powell said the attack in Bali had reinforced the determination of the US and its allies "to prosecute this war against terrorism".


There has been condemnation of the Bali attack by the UN Security Council, which voted unanimously to remind all countries of their obligation to fight terrorism.

No group has admitted carrying out the attack in the beach resort of Kuta.

In an interview with the BBC, Jemaah Islamiah's alleged leader Abu Bakar Bashir condemned the Bali attack for killing so many innocent victims and rejected claims that al-Qaeda was to blame.

Only 44 bodies have been positively identified out of a confirmed death toll of at least 181: 20 Australians, eight Britons, six Indonesians, five Singaporeans, and one citizen each from the Netherlands, Ecuador, France, Germany and New Zealand.

Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram on Wednesday welcomed Mr Blair's determination to act against both terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

"They are features of the same war in that we are dealing with threats to our citizens," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Prime Minister Tony Blair:
"We do know there are groups of extremists active in the region some of which have strong links to al Qaeda"

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15 Oct 02 | Politics
14 Oct 02 | N Ireland
24 Sep 02 | Politics
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