Select Committee on Defence Second Report


142. This report has been an attempt to look at the landscape after 11 September and to reach some preliminary conclusions on what has changed in respect of the threat from terrorism to the UK and its interests. This is not a threat assessment; we are not in a position to undertake such an exercise. Rather it is a threat characterisation.

143. Our conclusion is that the threat from terrorism has become more pressing and more dangerous. A threshold has been crossed in terms of scale and level of casualties. In his speech to the Labour Party Conference the Prime Minister asked 'If they could have murdered not 7,000 but 70,000 does anyone doubt they would have done so and rejoiced in it?'

144. Whatever the outcome of the present action in Afghanistan or the fate of Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda, we cannot expect to neutralize the new threats easily or quickly. The campaign against terrorism has been described as three-pronged in that it includes military, diplomatic and humanitarian initiatives. This three-pronged campaign must be pursued both legitimately and relentlessly. We must not lose our sense of the urgency and importance of this task in the months ahead. We must not hesitate to take the necessary steps to protect the UK and our interests overseas.

145. We shall be watching the MoD's work on its new chapter for the SDR with interest. As with the original SDR, we shall continue to track and monitor its progress. And we shall report on its conclusions.

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