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Blair denies 9/11 roused extremists

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has denied that his government's response to 9/11 helped to radicalise extremist Muslim factions.

Speaking from his London home on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the atrocity he said it was "deeply naive" to blame the approach taken by the West, adding it was time to drop "this wretched posture of apology and defeatism".

But former security minister Lord West, who served under Gordon Brown, said he was "wrong" to suggest intervention overseas had not had an impact.

He said: "There's no doubt that foreign policy does impact on radicalisation. It is not the sole cause. I'm afraid Prime Minister Blair was wrong in thinking it didn't impact, because it does."

Mr Blair, now a Middle East peace envoy, insisted "significant blows" had been struck in the war on terror but warned it was "not over". "I think it will take a generation, but the way to defeat this ideology ultimately is by a better idea, and we have it, which is a way of life based on openness, democracy, freedom and the rule of law," he told the BBC.

He added: "We have got to get out of this wretched posture of apology and defeatism where we believe we are provoking these people to do the things that they are doing.

"When they go and drive car bombs into street markets and kill the first hundred people they can we are not provoking them. They are responsible and they only way you defeat them is by standing up to them."

Mr Blair insisted he "constantly" reassessed the course of action he pursued during his time at No 10.

Jonathan Powell, his former chief of staff, said Mr Blair became "very steely, very focused" immediately after attacks and was one of the first world leaders to understand that the terror plot "changed everything" in terms of global politics.

He said: "A lot of people didn't realise quite how much this changed attitudes in America. For them it was another Pearl Harbour. It changed everything."


From Belfast Telegraph