David Cameron attacks Jeremy Corbyn on Bin Laden remarks: But what did the then-Labour backbencher actually say?

The PM called the Labour leader's ideology 'security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating'

Jeremy Corbyn speaking about Osama Bin Laden's death

Jeremy Corbyn’s interview with an Iranian television station has been used by Conservative leader David Cameron to attack him – but what did the Labour leader actually say?

Corbyn on Press TV
Corbyn on Press TV

In 2011 Mr Corbyn, then a backbench Labour MP, was highly critical of the lack of any apparent effort to put Osama Bin Laden on trial for his crimes, saying the solution “has got to be law, not war” – and it is that which he describes as a “tragedy”.

Introduced as an “outspoken rebel in the Labour party’s ranks” during an interview with the Iranian Press TV channel’s The Agenda programme, Mr Corbyn was sceptical of the US Navy Seals’ operation in which Bin Laden and four others were shot dead in a Pakistan compound on 2 May 2011.

He criticises President Barack Obama and gives credence to conspiracy theories surrounding the killing, asking: “Why the burial at sea – if indeed there was a burial at sea – and indeed if it was Bin Laden?”

Mr Corbyn goes on to state: “There was no attempt whatsoever that I can see to arrest him, to put him on trial, to go through that process.

“This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy.

“The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died. Torture has come back on to the world stage, been canonised virtually into law by Guantanamo and Bagram.

"Can't we learn some lessons from this? That we are just going to descend deeper and deeper…”

On Wednesday the Prime Minister used Mr Corbyn’s remarks to attack the Labour leader.

“And on the subject of protecting our country from terrorism, let me just say this: Thousands of words have been written about the new Labour leader.

“But you only really need to know one thing: he thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a ‘tragedy,’” Mr Cameron claimed to applause.

“No. A tragedy is nearly 3,000 people murdered one morning in New York. A tragedy is the mums and dads who never came home from work that day. A tragedy is people jumping from the towers after the planes hit.”

Mr Cameron added: “we cannot let that man inflict his security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology on the country we love.”

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