Politicians from all parties condemn 'sickening' words

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Indy Politics

The chilling last testament of Mohammad Sidique Khan, threatening that al-Qa'ida "will not stop this fight" until atrocities against Muslims stop, provoked widespread condemnation from politicians last night.

The video aired on the al-Jazeera television station came hours after the Conservative leadership contender Kenneth Clarke declared that the bombings were directly linked to the Iraq war.

While Downing Street refused to comment on the video, the shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, said: "Nothing can justify the murder of innocent people. People across Britain will be sickened by this video."

The Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Mark Oaten, said: "There can be no justification for the bombings that took place in London.

"Britain's involvement in the war in Iraq is no excuse for Muslim extremism. However, it would be wrong for the Government to deny that Muslim communities feel a sense of unease about our involvement in Iraq."

Scotland Yard said it was aware of the existence of the tape. A spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the tape and it will form part of our ongoing investigation."

A security expert claimed that the timing of the release of the terror video may be part of a propaganda war over Iraq. The former US intelligence officer Bob Ayers, now based in London, said the film may be part of an attempt by the terror network's leading figures to use the atrocity for their own ends.

"There are two possible explanations about the delay in releasing this footage, the first is that it may be simply the difficulty of passing it hand to hand before it reaching a TV station," he said.

"Another possibility is that al-Qa'ida may have been trying to look for a way for their leaders to retrospectively claim some credit for this attack. It might explain why the video also later shows Zawahri, it allows them to use the acts of people they may not have been involved with.

"They can use the bombings to again push Tony Blair on the issue of Iraq. People will be studying those tapes to glean as much information as they can, but the terrorists have become very good at disguising their locations. What they do provide is ideas about who the current leaders of certain organisations are, confirmations of the motivations behind attacks and what they are trying to do, and a further signal to the Government that this attack was because of Iraq," he said.

The security expert Will Geddes told ITV News that the video may have been timed to serve as a signal to al-Qa'ida cells preparing further attacks. "Many cells have gone to ground in the last few years and have not been able to communicate with others," he said. "What it will send out is a clear message to other sympathisers to try and recruit others to this cause."

Massoud Shadjareh, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: "I don't know what I am more angry at - a young man being misguided like this to believe that in Islam the end justifies the means - or a Government in denial that uses spin to blame everyone and everything except its own policies for our increasing insecurity."

Mr Clarke said: "If the Prime Minister really believes it, he must be the only person left who thinks that the recent bombs in London had no connection at all with his policy in Iraq. Sensible members of the public know perfectly well that misjudgements over Iraq have made the UK a more dangerous place for its citizens. The public knows it; all politicians should have the courage to say so."

He said he would have accepted that increased risk if the war had been a "just cause", but said the reasons for joining the invasion were "bogus". He accused the Prime Minister of a knee-jerk rush to anti-terror legislation through "moral blackmail" and "unhelpful and undignified" attacks on judges. He warned that bringing in new laws after every atrocity could be counterproductive, feeding a sense of panic and enhancing the grievances from which terrorists hoped to derive sympathy. "You do not beat the enemies of freedom by taking freedom away," he said.