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Former UK PM Blair warns of renewed bio-terrorism threat; cites U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan

Taliban control of Afghanistan creates a haven for al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

Updated: September 6, 2021 - 3:01pm

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Former British prime minister Tony Blair issued a warning on Monday to the West that they should be prepared for the potential use of biological weapons by extremist groups, citing Islamism as a "first order" security threat. 

Following the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last month, Britain fears the return of the Taliban, as well as other Islamists and terrorists from such groups as al Qaeda and Islamic State, according to Reuters

"Islamism, both the ideology and the violence, is a first order security threat and, unchecked, it will come to us, even if centered far from us, as 9/11 demonstrated," said Blair.

Blair was speaking at The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the world's oldest and the UK's leading defense and security think tank to mark the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by al Qaeda on the U.S.

He urged the West to take stock of its vulnerability and to be prepared. 

"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," said Blair.

He also suggested that Britain should seek to work more closely with its European allies on how to deal with the terrorist threat coming out of Africa's Sahel region, since the U.S. appetite to engage militarily with these threats appears very limited. 

"Counter-terrorism on its own won't remove an entrenched threat," he said. "We need some boots on the ground. Naturally our preference is for the boots to be local but that will not always be possible," he added.

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