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As a high priority, we should be looking at how we extend intelligence co-operation. There is close UK-USA co-operation and I would not wish to see that undermined in any way. However, European partners should not fall short of their responsibilities; they cannot opt outincluding the Russians. Informal co-operation already exists: the question is how we make that more effective. A new EU or multinational anti-terrorism agency would need to work within a clear structure of political accountability. It would need a political head, appointed and accountable to participating Governments. Having put that framework in place, it should have independence and the autonomy to act without constant reference back.
We have to re-examine the balance between civil liberties and the fight against terrorism. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary spoke with great sense and judgment on the radio this morning. In terrorist cases, we need to accept new extra-territorial powers for the police to make arrests outside their own country. We need a new international court, like the court established at The Hague to fight war crimes, and we need acceptance in that court of evidence gained by covert means.
Other steps that we need to take include seizing the assets of terrorists and their associates unhindered by bureaucracy. We need an international organisation to supervise that. Mr. bin Laden is a very wealthy man indeed, and he does not keep his money in an Afghan bank account.
We need, too, to enhance our own security. It is time for us to look again at the case for identity cards. We have to ensure that, with EU enlargement, we have an effective common border, with not only border checkpoints, but effective high-tech surveillance to monitor and control movements across that common border.
As well as strengthening security, we need to address the legitimate grievances of the communities from which terrorists draw their recruits, as we have done in Northern Ireland. We must renew our efforts to tackle the causes of the conflict in the middle east. The United States must re-engage in the middle east peace process as a high priority. The aspirations of both Israel and Palestinians must be recognised in the way that the Good Friday agreement serves both nationalist and Unionist traditions in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I inform the House that, with effect from 11.30 am, I have authorised the placing in the Library of a book of condolence in memory of those who died in the tragic events in the United States this week. The book will be available for Members and the staff of the House to sign.
Mr. John Butterfill (Bournemouth, West): All of us are still numbed by the unspeakable events that occurred in the United States. We must all agree that it is essential that we pursue the culprits and ensure that they are brought to justice. I have voted consistently against capital punishment for all the time that I have been in the House, but my convictions in that regard are now being sorely tested.
The misguided fanatics who carried out this event and who lost their own lives in the process are not the real culprits. The real culprits are the bigoted, warped, evil people who led them to believe that they were pursuing the cause of some religious objective in carrying out what they did. It is those people whom we need to seek out: they are the guilty people. They must be brought to justice and any regime that supports them must eventually be removed from power by the international community. We need to plan that process extremely carefully.
As many speakers have said, these events are not the fault of Islam. I am afraid that all major religions have suffered from the same fanatical bigotry and fundamentalism. The history of Christianity itself contains many examples of appalling behaviour in the name of Christianity. Indeed, we need only to look at Northern Ireland today to see what religious bigots can do to one another in the name of their religion. The same point applies to the Jewish faith. There are fundamentalists and bigots in Israel today, and they have delayed irreparably the cause of peace between the Jews and the Palestinians.
This action in the name of Islam threatens not just the western world but all the moderate Islamic states, and many of them are under threat from the same group of people. Egypt, the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the former Soviet Islamic states are all under threat from this process and we must make common cause with those people to ensure that these fanatics do not succeed not simply in causing further mayhem in the west but in overthrowing moderate Islamic Governments wherever they exist. The interests of those Governments coincide precisely with ours.
We must therefore ensure that the problem is not seen as one between Islam and the west, but as one that should lead to a common cause between all Islam and all the western world. That must be the thrust of any action that is taken by the international community.
We must also ensure that our banking systems do not permit the financing of such activities in the future. As the right hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) pointed out, bin Laden has bank accounts and they are not located in Afghanistanthey are located elsewhere in the world. The international banking system has a duty to take action to prevent the transmission of funds for such evil purposes.
We also need to consider the ways in which our present attitude towards immigration and asylum seekers may impact on this problem. We should not do anything that prevents genuine asylum seekers from coming to this country. However, we must remember that the way in which our courts and those in Australia interpret the legislation means that it is virtually impossible to exclude anybody from our borders.
Some 5,000 Afghans have come to this country in the past six months. I believe that the majority of them are fleeing, and are in genuine fear of persecution, from the evil regime that exists in Afghanistan, but we cannot rule out the real possibility that among them are terrorists who are here for a very different purpose. We need to regain control over the immigration process if we are to protect ourselves from international terrorism. It is therefore the duty of Governments here and in the European Union to review the way in which the legislation on human rights is framed, so as to make it absolutely clear that it cannot be used to allow terrorists to penetrate our shores. If we cannot reform it in that way, we should abrogate the treaty.
Donald Anderson (Swansea, East): This is a solemn occasion. This is a time for grieving and for showing our horror at the number of individuals whose lives were shattered when they were going peacefully and innocently about their work. It is also a time to show solidarity with the people of the United States in all the reasonable actions that they may take in response. So far, indeed, their response has been commendable. The American Government have avoided the twin temptations of a reckless swipe at an unknown enemy to placate the demands of public opinion and of yielding to what is perhaps a desire for a new isolationism.
Now is not the time to debate national missile defence, but surely that debate will be conducted in a new context. We may realise that national missile defence may be a sort of Maginot line in the sky when the real danger comes from terrorists with suitcases and not from the rogue states that are now in the sights of the United States.
I wish to make several brief reflections. First, how can we combat the terrorist threat on the operational level? My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have mentioned the links with organised crime and narco-terrorism, but I wish to point to a number of other issues while clearly wishing to retain at all times our democratic values.
The issues to examine include aviation security. I will not go into details, but it is clear that the threat was foreseeable and was foreseen. I refer the House to chapter 8 of the excellent work "Terrorism versus democracy", which was written by Professor Paul Wilkinson of St. Andrews university and published last year. One sees a precedent, for example, in the Algerian GIAthe Armed Islamic Groupand the airbus in France. We claim that our security is much better with Transec and other measures, but the danger is known; the Gore commission in the United States demonstrated that the real problem now is implementation and enforcement. There was no enforcement because of commercial considerations.
Under that heading, we must also look at the education of foreign nationals from sensitive areas in sensitive subjects. In 1993, the World Trade building bomber was educated in my city. In the recent attacks, we know that two of the bombers were educated in Hamburg; others were taught flying in Florida. Surely, we need to look at and follow the recommendation of the United States national commission, chaired by ambassador Bremner, which made relevant recommendations that, again, have been ignored. I support what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said about extradition.
We need to tackle more energetically the world crisis areas that breed terrorists. Of course, it is in the middle east, broadly defined, where terrorism overflows regional boundaries. Many points of leverage can be used on both the Israelis and the Palestinians but, obviously, we need to start a new process on firm foundations. There is no magic panacea to end terrorism, but renewed strenuous efforts to increase stability in volatile areas of the world will reduce the waters where terrorists breed and swim.
Reflecting on the tidal wave of revulsion following the outrage, the United States needs to build a new coalition against terrorism. We have begun with article 5 of the NATO treaty and, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, the important decision made at the UN Security Council on Wednesday. However, the coalition will break down if the American response is deemed to be disproportionate and badly targeted and if there is a failure to consult adequately on general policy. The chances of a solution would be weakened if one stepped outside a reasonably international solution.
In a related and final reflection, there will, of course, be some form of military response which, I trust, will not be an invasion of Pakistan; we know its topography and the history of this country's involvement in the 19th century[Interruption.] I am sorry, I mean, of course, Afghanistan. We know about the history of the United Kingdom's 19th century involvement and the bleeding wound of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Certainly, military firepower has a role, but it is not a long-term solution. Bin Laden and his like will not be crushed by missiles or invasion. To reduce the risk, we need a subtle combination of policies, not an unbalanced military response which, in my judgment, would lead only to more violence and more deaths; it would be a gross mistake, a betrayal of our values and wholly counter-productive.