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15 Oct 2002 : Column 179continued
Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green): May I start by thanking the Prime Minister for his statement? I should like to join him in welcoming the swift action and help given by the Foreign Office to support the many British families who have lost loved ones in Bali over the weekend. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, as they are with all the victims' families.
If 11 September was a nightmare, the atrocity in Bali marks the moment when the world woke up to the fact that that nightmare had become a living reality. Today, more than 180 people lie deadup to 30 Britons among themand hundreds more are injured. They were backpackers and holidaymakers, couples on honeymoon and tourist workersinnocents in a self-styled tropical paradise who were killed by an unspeakable evil that we must face up to. Terrorism is a cancer and it must be rooted out wherever and whenever we find it. So I welcome the assistance that the United Kingdom is lending to the Australian and Indonesian authorities in their search for those responsible for the Kuta beach bombing and in their efforts to bring those people to justice.
I hope that everybody will remember that this is the second largest terrorist atrocity committed against British peoplethe first being the World Trade Centre. In a little over a year, more than 150 British citizens have died in those two incidentsso this is our struggle too, wherever the incidents, at home or beyond our shores. I am therefore pleased that the Prime Minister has confirmed that this latest attack has stiffened our resolve to tackle terrorism around the world.
For some time, Indonesia has been warned by its neighbours and by the United States about the activities of terrorist cells on its soil. There were 30 bombings in Indonesia last year and an attempted attack on the US embassy in Jakarta last month. I therefore ask the Prime Minister why Jemaah Islamiyahthe group implicated in that attackwas not placed on any list of foreign terrorist organisations published by the US State Department, the European Union or the UK Government. He talked about dealing with that group, so why is he using the phrase that he is Xonly considering" proscribing it? Does he still lack the evidence? What links, if any, are there between that group and any organisations in the UK? Are there any provable links or any suspicion of which he is aware?
The Prime Minister has held talks with President Megawati. What steps are we taking to ensure that Indonesia deals with militant Islamic groups as effectively as its neighbours such as Singapore and Malaysia? He said that he had received no specific information about an attack in Bali, but I am aware that on Thursday the US State Department issued a general warning that all American citizens should stay away from venues such as nightclubs in certain countries. Was the intelligence that was available to the State Department when it issued that warning also available to us?
The need to root out terrorist groups is as urgent as the need to confront Saddam Hussein. I agree with the Prime Minister that there should be no doubt that it cannot be a question of either/or. I agree with him that those who saythere have been somethat we must choose between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction are offering a false choice. Bali cannot be used as a pretext for letting Saddam off the hook. Surely the duty of any British Government is to protect British citizens against all threatsnot merely to give them a false choice and present them with one threat. On the contrary, just as 11 September did, this attack shows what happens when the world fails to respond to threats as they arise, giving clear signals about further and future attacks.
The war against terrorism and our determination to disarm Iraq must surely proceed in parallel. However, the British people need complete reassurance that we are capable now of doing both. Will the Prime Minister let us all know that we will make the necessary intelligence capability, manpower and equipment available, and that nothing will stand in the way of that, regardless of implications for future financial resources?
Saturday's tragic events have shown that we must be able to fight a long-term conventional war against global terrorism, even as we prepare for another form of war against Iraq. Resources must be matched to meet the threats that we face. Without that resolve, there can
The Prime Minister: I shall respond reasonably briefly, as I obviously agree with much of what the right hon. Gentleman said. On some of the specific points, of course it is right that many attempted terrorist acts have been foiled, which is to the great credit of those who succeeded in doing so. The trouble is that the terrorists need succeed only once; that is the problem that we face.
The reason there has been hesitation in proscribing the particular organisation is indeed a lack of proof of whether it has been involved, but it is the most obvious suspect for the latest atrocity. We are considering it precisely for that reason, and we need to assess the evidence carefully. It is right to say, however, that we are aware of no connection with any group in this country.
In relation to warnings that have been given, there are two difficulties. The first is that there were no specific warnings of which I am aware in relation to the attack in Bali. What there have been, of course, are specific warnings about the potential for attacks in Indonesia. Indeed, last month the Americans and ourselves acted to protect our high commissions in Jakarta precisely because of worries about potential terrorist threats.
The difficultythis is the second pointis that intelligence of an unspecific nature flows across our desks all the time. It is very difficult to work out what we must focus on and deal with, and what is so broad that we cannot deal with it. That is why we must take action not just on the intelligence front, but in trying to work out those groups' sources of weapons and bombs, how they are financed, the types of covert activity that give them the means to carry out such attacks, and where their sympathisers are in various parts of the world. All that must be part of how we act.
I emphasise, as I said right after 11 September and have said constantly since then, that that will take a significant time. We have dealt to a large extent with the al-Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan, but their cells remain in different parts of the world and we must go after them in each part of the world. We have discussed the matter a great deal with Indonesia, we have offered what help we can, and I know that the Americans and the Australians have done the same. The reason I had the meeting with President Megawati in London in June was to see what more we can do. We will now be looking further at what we can do.
Finally, in relation to intelligence capability, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman and the House that the intelligence services will have the resources that they need to do the job that we need them to do.
Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye and Inverness, West): I entirely associate myself and my right hon. and hon. Friends with the proper expressions of sympathy in the House this afternoon. All of us watching those awful television pictures over the past few days, particularly of the relatives making their way to Bali and trying desperately to find some information about their missing loved ones, will not have failed to realise the utter horror of what has taken place and its global unacceptability.
Does the Prime Minister agree that, in the wake of the tragedy, the international community must take stock of the campaign against terrorism? The new intelligence co-operation to which he referred this afternoon is obviously welcome, as is the deployment of forces to Indonesia and to the region. Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that in giving support to Indonesia, it is probably worth bearing in mind the fact that we want to keep the focus of that support on civilian forces and the police, rather than on the military, because there is at least the possibility of links between the army and other Islamic terrorists?
Are the Government addressing that issue in the course of their dealings with the Indonesian authorities? Obviously, they must be given every encouragement to deter future acts of terrorism, but is not one of the lessons of this outrage that we are not facing a single threat from a single enemy in a single place, and that the complex roots of terrorism mean, as the American writer, Flannery O'Connor, once put it, that
Finally, is it the Prime Minister's assessment that, if there were a war against Iraq, it would increase or decrease the likelihood of further international terrorist incidents of the type that we have just seen?