United Kingdom
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Article for the New York Post
September 20, 2001

New York has always been admired throughout the world.

But that admiration, I can promise you, has never been greater than now. The courage, resilience and humanity shown by the people of this city over the last few, dreadful days has inspired us all.

Your profound disbelief, shock and grief at the terrible events of last week has been shared by all the people of Britain. But we have also watched in wonder at the way New Yorkers have responded to this catastrophe, at the bravery of the city's emergency services, of the determination of New Yorkers to do everything they could to help and at how this whole city and country have pulled together.

The numbers of British dead and missing show what a huge stake our country has in this city. Many of our citizens live and work here. Thousands of our companies do business here. I can promise we will work with you to get New York fully back on its feet as quickly as possible.

It's perhaps wrong to single out any group in a city of heroes and heroines.

But the whole world has witnessed the selfless courage of New York's firefighters and police who made the ultimate sacrifice to save others - and the determination of their colleagues, despite danger and exhaustion, to continue the rescue effort.

I would also like to thank the many people in New York and across America, who at this time of intense national agony, have found time to offer sympathy, support and help to those British families whose loved ones are dead or missing.

I am coming to New York today to join some of these families at a special church service. I fear many more grief-stricken families will be traveling across the Atlantic from Britain in the coming days and weeks.

We don't know yet the exact figure of Britons killed in these despicable attacks. What we do know is that, despite the lengthy and, at times, savage terror campaign that has been waged in our country in relation to Northern Ireland, the attack in New York is by far the worst ever terrorist atrocity against British citizens.

The scale of these losses alone would be reason enough for Britain to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States in tracking down those behind these attacks, to bring them to justice and, in the longer term, to dismantle the whole machinery of terrorism behind them.

But, of course, this is not the only reason. America is our closest ally and friend. The links between our two peoples are many and close and have been further strengthened over the last few days. We believe in Britain that you stand by your friends in times of trial just as America stood by us.

We also realize that what happened last week was not just an unprovoked and merciless attack on America but a deliberate assault on the whole civilized world. The targets for the terrorists may have been the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but the intention of those who planned these atrocities was to strike a blow at the values of decency, tolerance and freedom that underpin our whole way of life.

It's why the decent, civilized countries from across the globe are coming together to counter the threat to us all from international terrorism.

I fly from New York to Washington for talks with President Bush. I want to pay tribute to the leadership shown by the president in these most difficult of times. He has not only helped the American people come to terms with their grief but, by his patient but determined response to this crime, has enabled the building of the widest possible coalition to hold to account those responsible and to destroy their apparatus of terror.

As President Bush himself has said, no one should think this will be an easy battle to win. We know from our own experience in Britain how difficult it is to counter terror campaigns. But the scale of the catastrophe last week underlines why we must not fail.

The terrorists have shown by their total disregard for human life that there are no moral limits to their actions. We can now see that if they get the chance to acquire chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, they would not hesitate to use them.

The immediate goal of the international coalition now being built is to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the appalling attacks on New York and Washington. But, in the longer term, we must develop a coordinated and effective response to international terrorism - how it is financed, how it operates, where it operates from, who supports and shields it.

This will need the same patience, strength and determination that President Bush and the American people have shown over the last few days. It is not what those behind last week's outrages expected nor wanted. They underestimated New York, they under-estimated the courage and strength of the United States and they have underestimated the resolve of America and her allies throughout the world to defeat them.


Crown copyright material reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO.