International Terrorism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:44 pm on 4th October 2001.

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Photo of John Barrett John Barrett Liberal Democrat, Edinburgh West 3:44 pm, 4th October 2001

Although our thoughts are with the victims and the families and loved ones of the 7,000 who died in New York and Washington, we should give some thought to the victims of terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, refugees on the move and in camps, starving, eating grass or nothing. It is not only in the west that terrorism is ruining lives.

We heard earlier who is responsible and that the evidence points clearly to bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime. I look forward to as much of that evidence being published as possible but accept that not all of it will be in the public domain. As my right hon. and learned Friend Mr. Campbell said, we have to take on trust what we do not see published. It is important that we convince not only hon. Members and our allies, but the general public and the general public in other countries that what we are doing is right. We must be believed.

We have identified who is co-ordinating the training for terrorism in Afghanistan and the regime that allows that to go on. Who allows it is culpable and must be stopped but serious problems will arise. Winter is about to set in and there are dangers, which have been mentioned by many hon. Members, in entering into an alliance with the Northern Alliance.

It will require resolve by all our allies. International co-operation is vital and is developing further today, but we must not allow strains on that international alliance, if and when military action starts, to affect our attempts to deal with the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding and the aid that is already arriving in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We must give humanitarian and military objectives equal priority.

We have had difficulty establishing the exact number of victims in New York and Washington and we do not know the number of victims in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is good to see aid beginning to get through. In my constituency, many Pakistani families have friends and relations in Pakistan, particularly in Islamabad. They have contacted me about the crisis. I have received no letters arguing that we and our allies should move forward more quickly, but dozens of letters arguing caution. I agree with a number of points that have been raised by Mr. Galloway in the House and elsewhere.

On the domestic front, we must give greater consideration to the risks in this country. There has already been an attack on a mosque in Edinburgh, but one of my greatest concerns is the threat that exists to nuclear power stations, among other installations, in this country. Mr. Simpson mentioned the ability of terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons. Since 11 September, things have moved on. Weapons of mass destruction can be domestic airliners. Petrol tankers have been mentioned in connection with a potential attack on the Sears tower. We must look at security at home. We in the House are aware that security measures have increased. I would like security measures outside to increase too.