Blair: Islam Drove Suicide Bombers- Not Iraq War Blair: Islam Drove Suicide Bombers- Not Iraq War; LONDON BOMBINGS - YOU CANNOT DENY RELIGIOUS LINKS, SAYS PM

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL WAUGH;BEN LEAPMAN

TONY BLAIR has declared that the London suicide bombers were driven primarily by Islam rather than political causes such as the war on Iraq.

In an outspoken address to the Cabinet, the Prime Minister rounded on those who claimed the attacks had nothing to do with religion.

Mr Blair told his ministers that while people blamed poverty, discrimination or the war in Iraq - "anything but faith" - for fuelling extremism, it was clear that the four men had been driven by their Islamic beliefs.

His remarks were seen by ministers as a reaction to attempts by Ken Livingstone and Assistant Metropolitan Police Commissioner Brian Paddick to distance the bombers from Islam.

Within hours of the London explosions, Mr Paddick said that the words "terrorist" and "Islam" did not go together, while the Mayor said that the attacks were not caused by "an ideology - or even a perverted faith".

Mr Blair's comments came as a report from the respected foreign affairs think tank Chatham House claimed that the invasion of Iraq had "given a boost to the " propaganda, recruitment and fundraising" of al Qaeda.

Downing Street said that Mr Blair felt it was time the Muslim community went beyond talking about extremism to taking "practical" steps to tackle it.

A spokesman said Mr Blair had told the Cabinet: "There are extremists who have a perverse view of Islam who try to use that view to justify events like the London bombings."

The spokesman was scathing about the Chatham House report's conclusions, claiming it suggested that Britain should sit on its hands and "hope we weren't attacked". …