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The death of Osama bin Laden
03/05/2011 17:01:00

Today was the first opportunity for the Prime Minister to make a statement to the House of Commons about the death of Osama bin Laden.

I don't think it is right to celebrate the death of any human being and Bin Laden’s death won’t bring an end to the ‘war on terror’ – indeed, in the short term it probably increases the likelihood of further attacks – but it does send out an important message about our determination to ensure that those who commits acts of terrorism are brought to justice and hopefully brings some closure to the families of those who died on 9/11 and in other Al Qaeda attacks.

I thought the Prime Minister got the tone just about right today. In particular, there were three points he made that I thought worthy of repeating.

First, bin Laden was a man who posed as a leader of Muslims but who was actually a mass murderer of Muslims. He was responsible for the death of more Muslims than people of any other faith.

Second, the fact that he was living in a large house in a populated area suggests that he must have had an extensive support network in Pakistan. It is right that we ask questions of the Pakistani authorities but we should not forget that Pakistan has suffered more from terrorism than any other country in the world and we most continue to support those in that country who share our commitment to defeating terrorism.

Finally, recent events in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Tunisia show that the Islamic world is rejecting everything bin Laden stood for. People are fighting to replace dictatorship not with his brand of Islamism but with democracy.

I asked the Prime Minister whether bin Laden's death brings forward the date when we can bring our brave servicemen and women home from Afghanistan. In reply, the Prime Minister stressed that it did not mean that the timetable had automatically changed but it did open up opportunities. I will continue to pursue this point. We went into Afghanistan 10 years ago to apprehend those responsible for 9/11 and to stop it being used as a base for terrorists. Of course we mustn't cut and run but the death of bin Laden should mark an important staging post in the end of our deployment there.

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