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Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk): With reference to the funding of terrorism, is the Foreign Secretary aware that in London there are still a number of extremist middle east organisations that are raising funds and peddling evil—for example, Sheikh Abu Hamza, who is based at Finsbury Park mosque? Is the right hon. Gentleman also aware that bin Laden's sister is living in this country?

Mr. Straw: Of course I am aware of the presence of the individual whom the hon. Gentleman mentions; one could

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hardly fail to be aware of him. However, as so many hon. Members have made clear in their interventions, and as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, that individual does not speak for the Islamic faith or the Islamic community.

With regard to the action that needs to be taken, only last year the House enacted the Terrorism Act 2000, which greatly strengthens the tools available to the police and the courts to deal with people who are raising funds or support for terrorist organisations. We should remember that when that Bill and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill were introduced in the House, some claimed that they went too far and were not proportionate to the threat of terrorism. We have been reminded this week of the strength and potential threat that terrorism poses to us, and we must ensure that we respond to those mounting threats in a way that properly balances liberties and the freedom to live.

Terrorists operate without regard for borders. The fight against terrorism therefore needs to be a global one. Only a true coalition of the civilised world offers a real chance of cutting out that cancer. As we construct that coalition, we will include the Islamic world. No one should be in any doubt: those acts of mass murder have nothing to do with the Islamic faith. The Muslim Council of Britain said in its strong condemnation of the atrocities:

We admire the calm determination and dignity with which America's leaders and the American people have reacted to the calamity. We have offered them our full backing for their efforts to hunt down and hold to account the terrorists and those who harbour them. There must be no refuge. The attacks were not just on the United States; they were on humanity, on civilisation and on us all.

The terrorists who struck on Tuesday exploited what they see as the great weakness of democratic societies—freedom—but, in truth, freedom is and will remain our greatest strength. Terrorism is ultimately self-defeating. We must channel the rage and revulsion that we feel today to make intelligent decisions in order to ensure the triumph of the civilised values on which this House is founded. From the catastrophe, I believe that the United States and the free world will emerge stronger.

10.46 am

Mr. Michael Ancram (Devizes): I begin by thanking the Foreign Secretary for his speech and his kind remarks. I only wish that we could have met first across the Dispatch Box under happier circumstances. I pay tribute to my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude), for the way in which he conducted his administration of this shadow portfolio. I hope to be able to emulate his wisdom and judgment in the weeks and months ahead.

We meet today in sombre times—sombre not just in the devastation wrought by the vile and barbarous acts of terrorism that we witnessed in New York and Washington this week, but sombre in the threat implicit in what we witnessed for the rest of the civilised world. What we saw on Tuesday with such disbelief was an attack not just on innocent people, not just on the centres of power, but on the values of humanity that form the very basis of civilisation across the world.

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It was an attack not just on America but on the whole free world—the whole civilised world. It is right therefore that Parliament has been recalled, and I congratulate the Prime Minister on that. Today we have set partisan politics aside. In the face of great evil, we are one Parliament and one House.

The enormity of what was done on Tuesday was such that in some ways it is only now beginning to sink in, in all its horror. To begin with, it was a terrible and almost unbelievable series of images and pictures. Only now are we beginning to understand the extent of the violent ending of life, of the families brutally shattered and of the unbearable anguish left behind, the sheer number of people killed, the manner of their killing and the evilness of it all. Now, as the bodies are recovered and the tragic stories emerge, the real human horror hits us all, and if we feel growing anger and emotion we should not be ashamed.

The catastrophe has, with reason, been described as an act of war. It is that, but it is much more: it is a crime against humanity. We would be less than human if we were not profoundly moved. Our deep sorrow at what has been done to our friends in America is added to by the fact that there are so many British victims. We must all be shocked by how many British casualties there are. It is the worst terrorist outrage that we have faced. I welcome the help that the Government announced this morning for the relatives and the bereaved. We should not forget the many other nationals who lost their lives, not least the many Pakistanis who were in the two towers when they collapsed.

Our hearts today go out to all who have died, all who have lost loved ones and all whose lives will be permanently scarred either physically or mentally by this vicious crime. Many of those will be the brave heroes and heroines of the emergency and medical services, especially the firefighters, who literally risked life and limb in that hell on earth. We pay tribute to their dedication and their courage. For me, they have given new meaning to the phrase, "the indomitable spirit of man."

We have all been touched by this dreadful event. The bond between this country and America is strong—strong because of the values and interests that we share and because of the personal bonds of friendship and the family ties between our two countries, but strong, most of all, for the times that we have stood shoulder to shoulder against evil. I welcome and support the Government's swift announcement that, at this time of America's need, we shall do so again. I also praise the way in which the Prime Minister indicated that, in the difficult and dangerous times ahead, we will support our friends. I urge him and his Government not to be shaken from that resolve. When we have needed America, it has helped us. When America needs our help, we will help it.

I pay tribute to Lord Robertson, the Secretary-General of NATO, and his council for the resolute way in which they have invoked article 5 for the first time in the organisation's history and to the European Union, which has in no uncertain terms declared its determination to combat international terrorism. I hope that the Government will work to stiffen the spine of any of our European partners that may appear to wobble. I welcome also the Security Council's unanimous call for international co-operation to deal with terrorism.

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Indeed, almost all of us must have been warmed by the near universal condemnation from the international community. President Putin and Russia have been forthright in their support. States that have traditionally been hostile to the United States condemned this vile act of terrorism. Yasser Arafat has condemned it. Libya has condemned it. The international community of nations has risen up against the perpetrators of Tuesday's atrocity.

That international response has been heartening, because if terrorism is to be driven from the face of our planet, we need, as US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said, to form a worldwide coalition against it. We have a vital role to play in helping to build that coalition and, more importantly, in sustaining it. I offer the full support of Her Majesty's Opposition to the Government in their chosen path as a leader in the international community and a staunch ally to our American friends in the fight against this terrorist evil. The going will undoubtedly get tougher in the weeks ahead, and I urge them not to waver.

There is, without doubt, a reason for the almost universal condemnation of Tuesday's atrocity—this act of terrorism struck new levels of evil. It was of a different order. In the past, planes have been hijacked for the purpose of taking hostages and buildings have been bombed. On Tuesday, those heinous activities, for the first time, were woven into one, with devastating effect. This was no opportunist attack. This was no spontaneous act of terrorism. It had been long in the planning. It required skilled recruitment, skilled training and the ability to retain motivation over what was clearly a lengthy period. It was the work of a sophisticated organisation or possibly even a state. It represents a new dimension of terrorism—terrorism without limits.

Here were terrorists for whom human life held no value, neither their own nor those of the hundreds on the planes and the thousands on the ground, which they were to destroy. The terrorists were not mindless, and I agree with the Foreign Secretary that we should be cautious about using that word. They were totally calculating and deliberate. Theirs was an attack on that set of values that believes in the sanctity of human life and in human liberty and human rights. Theirs is a war in which nothing matters except the achievement of their objectives. There is no morality and no conscience.

Those are the real dangers that the civilised world must now meet, because these are the rogue elements—the rogue terrorists who are backed more often than not by rogue states. The manner in which they deliver their terror is developing to a frightening pattern. Once it involved firearms, then car bombs. This week, it involved the equivalent of flying bombs packed with people into buildings packed with people, designed to create the maximum loss of life. As the Foreign Secretary said, next time it could involve missiles. If ever there was good reason to consider the dangers of asymmetric warfare and the need for layered defences against it, it was this vile escalation of the wicked trade of the terrorist.

I have listened to those who told us that Tuesday was a day when the world changed. I urge caution about that. Terrorism seeks to change the world, sometimes without having any idea of what it wants to change the world to. Terrorists must not be allowed to take comfort from their action and these terrorists must not be allowed to take comfort from Tuesday—not even the merest glimmer of satisfaction that they have achieved any of their aims.

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Mayor Giuliani of New York said to Manhattan soon after this terrible tragedy, "Go about your normal day . . . do the things you normally do, show confidence in yourself and the city". Terrorists may temporarily have caused life styles to be altered so as to recognise the need for greater security, but they have not, they will not and they must not change our freedoms and our rights and the way that we, as free people, live our lives.

What has been changed by Tuesday is the way in which the free world now reacts to terrorism. There must be no more talk of discussions with and concessions to terrorists—those who hold no human values. The simple priority now must be the pursuit and total eradication of this terrorist threat.

My time in Northern Ireland taught me that terrorism depends on three elements to succeed: it needs the oxygen of publicity, it needs to show that it works and it needs safe havens in which it can hide. As this week showed, the first cannot be prevented if the act is horrific enough. The second can be avoided by determining that terrorism must never be appeased and must never be allowed to dictate the way in which lives are led. The third can be achieved only when those in whose territories the bolt holes exist are prepared to block those bolt holes and ensure that the terrorist can find no comfort or shelter or harbour from the relentless search-and-destroy pursuit that the international community will launch against them.

The successful terrorist, like the guerrilla in Mao Tse-Tung's famous dictum,

The challenge to the international community is to dry up that sea to leave the terrorists exposed on the sand so that we can deal with them. The significant coalition that has already been brought together since Tuesday must challenge the countries of the world one by one to block the bolt holes and ensure that the terrorist is isolated and dealt with. Those countries that demur or refuse will condemn themselves as the harbourers of terrorists, and it must be shown that the international community will not tolerate them.

This is a war, which the United States has declared, on terrorism. The form it will take cannot yet be known. I hope that the Foreign Secretary can assure us that, before it is decided, we will be consulted. I hope that he can also confirm that our Government have told the United States that it will have our military support and assistance should that prove necessary.

It is fruitless to speculate on the scale of military action that the Americans may be planning to undertake, but I am sure that the whole House agrees that it must be proportionate, clearly and legitimately targeted and effective. I am confident that it will be.

President Bush and his national security team around him, even in the face of the provocation of the barbarity of this week, have shown the controlled and measured way in which they are considering their response. Whatever action is taken, and action there must be, they must clearly identify their objective and then pursue it. At the same time, it must be made abundantly clear that that is not directed against Islam, nor indeed against the Arab world, most of which has condemned this atrocity.

The whole House will welcome, as have I, the clear and unequivocal statements from Islamic spokesmen that what was perpetrated on Tuesday by the pilots of those planes is not martyrdom, but murder. The true voice of Islam has condemned what happened with as great a ferocity as many others, not least because this act was stripped of humanity and stripped of compassion.

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Our thoughts and prayers today must be with the bereaved. Our resolve must be interwoven with that of our friend and ally, America. Our anger must be targeted on the perpetrators of this savage act of inhumanity and on their accomplices and protectors. Our will must be single-mindedly addressed to the need to bring these people to justice.

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