Blair: World slept after 9/11
[size=8]Tuesday, July 26, 2005; Posted: 12:48 p.m. EDT (16:48 GMT) [/size]
LONDON, England (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday that much of the world had dropped its guard to the threat of terrorism after the "wake-up call" of the 9/11 attacks of 2001.
Blair was speaking after meeting opposition leaders to discuss anti-terror legislation set to be introduced in the wake of this month's London bombings.
He said Britain would not give "one inch" to terrorists and said it was time to confront them "on every single level."
"September 11 for me was a wake up call. Do you know what I think the problem is? That a lot of the world woke up for a short time and then turned over and went back to sleep again," he said.
"We are not going to deal with this problem, with the roots as deep as they are, until we confront these people at every single level. And not just their methods but their ideas," Blair said.
While rejecting suggestions he had claimed the London bombings had nothing to do with Iraq, Blair said there was no justification for terrorism.
"Let us expose the obscenity of these people saying it is concern for Iraq that drives them to terrorism," Blair said.
"If it is concern for Iraq then why are they driving a car bomb into the middle of a group of children and killing them?" Blair said.
"They will always have a reason and I am not saying any of these things don't affect their warped reasoning and warped logic.
"But I do say we shouldn't compromise with it. Whatever justification these people use, I do not believe we should give one inch to them."
"There is no justification for suicide bombing whether in Palestine, Iraq, in Egypt, in Turkey, anywhere."
Blair once again praised Londoners for their behavior in the aftermath of the July 7 attacks on the London transit system that killed 52 people plus the four bombers, and the failed bomb attacks of July 21.
"I'm not standing here and being absurd about it in the sense of saying people should not be concerned; of course they are going to be concerned and worried," he said.
"But I do think the way Londoners have responded has been magnificent ... because they have not allowed their worry and concern to overcome their determination to carry on with their lives. I think that's the best attitude."
CNN's European Political Editor Robin Oakley said Blair had delivered a "performance of great defiance and passion."
Following his talks with Conservative Party leader Michael Howard and Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, Blair said he hoped final details of the anti-terror proposals would be presented to opposition parties in September.
Proposals under discussion included measures that would allow authorities to close down extremist Web sites and extend the period for holding terror suspects.
"I am very pleased that the cross-party consensus on the way forward is continuing," Blair said.
"I think when the main political parties present a united front then you send an important signal to the terrorists of our strength, our determination, our unity to defeat them."
Howard said that whatever measures are put before the House of Commons when it reconvenes in the autumn, they must be consensual proposals.
"There's a great desire, at a time when the country faces such great danger, to work together. We're all in this together, and we all believe it's very important to show that the country is united in response to the danger we face, and we hope that it will be possible to reach agreement on further measures that will enable us to deal with this threat more effectively," Howard told reporters.
"One of the principle objectives of the terrorists is to divide us, one from another. So far ... they have failed in that objective. It's important that they continue to fail in that objective. That's why we believe it is so important that we approach these difficult issues in a spirit of consensus, with the objective of reaching agreement wherever we possibly can," Howard said.
The opposition leader said his party is concerned about the proposal to increase the period of detention for suspects related to terror investigations from the current two weeks to three months.
"We see very considerable difficulties in that; that's a long time to hold someone without charge," Howard said.
He said that other items discussed were a proposal that would make intercept evidence admissible at trials and authorities ability to close down extremist Web sites.
Kennedy voiced concern that basic civil liberties might be compromised in the push to pass new anti-terror legislation, and also questioned the extension of detention proposal.
"How far that extension might or might not go, I think is something that will require further evidence," Kennedy said.
Proposed legislation put forth by the government also includes outlawing indirect incitement or the glorifying of terrorism, and making it illegal to prepare to commit terror acts and provide or receive terror training.
Other measures, including increased use of phone taps and other intercept evidence in court, are being considered.
Meanwhile, London transport workers warned they would consider striking unless steps were taken to improve security on the Underground system.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) Union is due to meet the network's operator and senior police officials on Wednesday and has said it will demand the introduction of guards on trains, more station staff and better emergency training and equipment for rail workers.
"Given the urgency of the situation and the fact that it can take up to a month to ballot, we will not be sitting on our hands," RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said in a statement.