Tony Blair warns Islamist terrorists could launch post-Covid 'Bio-Terror' attack

6 September 2021, 11:58 | Updated: 6 September 2021, 14:02

Tony Blair issued the warning in a speech marking 20 years since 9/11
Tony Blair issued the warning in a speech marking 20 years since 9/11. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The West should prepare for Islamist terrorists to carry out deadly attacks using biological weapons in the wake of the Covid pandemic, Tony Blair has said.

The former prime minister said in a speech marking 20 years since 9/11 there was a danger extremist terror groups could develop biological weapons.

He told the Royal United Services Institute military think tank: "Covid-19 has taught us about deadly pathogens.

"Bio-terror possibilities may seem like the realm of science fiction; but we would be wise now to prepare for their potential use by non-state actors."

READ MORE: Taliban claims control of whole of Afghanistan after 'taking' final province

READ MORE: Taliban 'shoot dead pregnant policewoman in front of husband and children'

He urged leaders from around the world to come together to develop a common strategy to counter the menace to their societies.

Mr Blair, who committed British troops to Afghanistan in 2001 in response to 9/11, also said a strategy based on responding to terror through drone strikes and special forces had "limitations", adding there would always be a need for "boots on the ground".

He said "radical Islam" continues to represent a "first-order security threat" 20 years later, and that it had not declined as a force in that time.

Its ideology, turning religion into political doctrine backed if necessary by armed struggle, inevitably brought it into conflict with open, modern culturally tolerant societies, he said.

Likening it to revolutionary communism in the 20th century, he added that it remained the principal cause of destabilisation across the Middle East and Africa.

Has the whole of Afghanistan fallen to the Taliban?

"In my view, Islamism, both the ideology and the violence, is a first order security threat; and, unchecked, it will come to us, even if centred far from us, as 9/11 demonstrated," he said.

"Like revolutionary communism, it operates in many different arenas and dimensions; and like it, its defeat will come ultimately through confronting both the violence and the ideology, by a combination of hard and soft power."

He said while initial efforts to counter the threat would inevitably centre on Western nations, it was important to bring in Russia and China as well as Muslim countries which opposed the extremists.

Mr Blair said it represented a particular challenge to European nations given that it was now clear following the withdrawal from Afghanistan that the US had "a very limited appetite for military engagement".

He said: "Europe is already facing the fallout from Libya, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

US President Joe Biden speaks about Afghanistan withdrawal

"And for these purposes Britain is part of Europe, like it or not."

He added that western nations had become "deeply adverse" to casualties among their own armed forces.

"This is not a problem of the armed forces themselves, who are brave and extraordinary people," he said.

"But it is now an overwhelming political constraint to any commitment to Western boots on the ground, except for special forces.

"Yet the problem this gives rise to, is obvious: if the enemy we're fighting knows that the more casualties they inflict, the more our political will erodes, then the incentive structure is plain."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Weather maps are turning red as a wave of heat makes a beeline for the UK, with temperatures set to soar across the country.

UK weather maps heat up as exact date 'North African plume' will see temperatures to hit 29C revealed

Conservatives have accused Keir Starmer of creating a £4.5billion tax black hole, casting doubt over their net zero spending plans.

Labour's net zero black hole? Tories accuse Starmer of £4.5bn budget shortfall as tax hikes loom

England beat Serbia 1-0 in tense first round Euro 2024 clash

England beat Serbia 1-0 after early goal from Jude Bellingham in tense first round Euro 2024 clash

England vs Serbia staring XI confirmed ahead of Three Lions' Euro 2024 clash

England vs Serbia staring XI confirmed as Gareth Southgate prepares for Three Lions' opening Euro 2024 clash

Police hunt 21-year-old man following death of boy, 12 in shocking hit-and-run

Police hunt 21-year-old man following death of boy, 12 in 'appalling' hit-and-run

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting

Wes Streeting urges doctors not to strike amid claims manifesto is not the ‘sum total’ of Labour's NHS spending

Clashes erupt between football fans in Gelsenkirchen ahead of England and Serbia's first Euro 2024 match

Clashes erupt between football fans in Gelsenkirchen as England beat Serbia 1-0 in opening Euro 2024 game

Southwark council raised more than £2.6 million by issuing 43,300 fines to motorists

Labour council urged to refund motorists after ‘unfairly’ fining thousands of drivers £2.6million

Police rammed the cow

Officer who rammed cow with police squad car removed from frontline duties

England fans in Gelsenkirchen

Thousands of England fans descend on Gelsenkirchen ahead of Three Lions' first Euro 2024 match against Serbia

Queues at Birmingham airport

Travel chaos strikes major UK airport as passengers stuck in lengthy queues

Police rammed the cow

Owner of cow rammed by police gives update on its condition and says officers should be fired for 'disgusting' incident

Officers shot a man threatening football fans in Hamburg

Man shot by police after brandishing 'axe and molotov cocktail' close to Euro 2024 fan zone

Labour's Wes Streeting has called for a debate with Nigel Farage

Labour's Wes Streeting calls for debate with Nigel Farage to take on 'toxic rhetoric' in 'battle of ideas'

Prince William's children have sent him a Father's Day message

'We love you papa': George, Charlotte and Louis send Prince William Father's Day message in first social media post

Labour and the Conservatives would leave the NHS 'worse off than under austerity', the Nuffield Trust has warned

Labour and Tories would leave NHS 'worse off' than under austerity, health think tank warns