Iraq war not to blame for 7/7 bombings, insists Tony Blair

Former Prime Minister says we must look at the 'wider context' rather than blaming Britain's involvement in Iraq for the attacks

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Tony Blair has insisted the war in Iraq was not to blame for the 7/7 bombings that killed 52 people and left hundreds injured.

On the 10th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack seen on British soil, the former Prime Minister said we must “look at this in the bigger context” to understand why British youths detonated four bombs across London’s transport network.

He said attacks in countries that did not participate in the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, such as France, as well as other nations such as Norway, Belgium and Tunisia that have “no real foreign policy presence” proved his point.

Mr Blair, who was in power at the time of the 7/7 bombings, said the battle to combat Islamic extremism must be fought on the ground but stopped short of recommending that British troops should be deployed in Isis-controlled territory. 

He warned that the threat of terrorism will continue to “intensify” if Western nations failed to unite to form a common strategy to fight the “long, hard struggle”.

Speaking during an interview with his former Cabinet colleague Dame Tessa Jowell on LBC Radio, Mr Blair said: "9/11 in New York was probably the first really large scale terrorist attack. Obviously, we had certain foreign policy responses to that.

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Tony Blair returned from the G8 Summit in the wake of the bombings, describing the attack as 'barbaric' (Getty)

"The problem is that even those countries that didn't participate in Iraq at all, like France, are now subject to these attacks.

"We have seen them most recently in Tunisia. Countries like Belgium or Norway, who are countries that have no real foreign policy presence, are also subject to this.

"This is a global problem ... and the only way of dealing with it ultimately is for people to come together whatever their faith background and say we are united against this terrorism, and to say we are not going to allow anyone to excuse themselves by saying the slaughter of totally innocent people is somehow a response to any decision by any government.

"It is the responsibility of those who carry out the attacks of terrorism and those who incite them."

In a separate interview with the BBC this morning, Mr Blair suggested a united group of nations in the West needed to have "the means of combating these people and combating them on the ground".

"I don't criticise Western leadership today but I do say this is a long hard struggle and we've got to be prepared to engage over a long period of time because at the time of 7/7, we faced people who had been radicalised over a period of time," he said.

"But we face a situation today where you have fighters coming back from Syria who are our own citizens. You have training camps actually in Libya not just in Syria, in Iraq and elsewhere and this threat is not going away. It will intensify in time to come."

Events throughout today are remembering the victims of the 7/7 bombings across the capital, with a national minute's silence to be held at 11.30am. David Cameron and Boris Johnson will join the families of victims at the Hyde Park 7/7 memorial, before attending a service at St Paul's cathedral.

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