London: Ex-British leader Tony Blair, who
played a key role in responding to the 9/11 attacks, said
on Saturday terrorism remained a deep-rooted problem on the
eve of the atrocity's 10th anniversary.
Blair praised Western powers for reducing the terrorist
threat but warned leaders should not let their guard down
because of the death of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who
masterminded the 2001 attacks on the United States.
"I think we have certainly achieved significant results
in fighting (Islamist terrorism). I think we have improved our
security defences against the terrorists," he told BBC radio.
"I think we have knocked out a lot of the al Qaeda
But he added: "I don't think this is over. I think the
radical Islamism which gave rise to this terrorist group is
still with us, is still powerful and still has its roots and
its effects in many different parts of the world."
"I think it will take a generation" to eradicate the
ideology that was driving people towards terrorism, he added.
Blair, premier from 1997 to 2007, famously said that
Britain stood "shoulder to shoulder" with Americans in the
immediate aftermath of the attacks and strongly supported then
US president George W Bush's response to the atrocity.
Ceremonies will take place in the United States tomorrow
to mark a decade since al Qaeda hijackers slammed passenger
planes into the World Trade Centre, destroying its iconic Twin
Towers, and the Pentagon, in the nation's capital.
A fourth plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field when the
passengers overpowered the hijackers.
Almost 3,000 people were killed that day in the worst
attacks on American soil.
The attacks sparked a 10-year manhunt for bin Laden, who
was finally tracked down and killed in a covert raid by US
Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May.
But Blair warned his death did not mean the fight against
terrorism was over, saying that "this is not just about one
man, this is actually about a terrorist movement".
First Published: Saturday, September 10, 2011, 22:01