David Cameron has warned that Britain is engaged in a “generational struggle” against terrorism in the wake of the Algerian hostage crisis which has left at least three Britons dead.
In a statement to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, the prime minister said there needed to be a “patient, intelligent but tough approach” to defeat terrorism and to ensure the security of the UK.
“We are in the midst of a generational struggle against an ideology which is an extreme distortion of the Islamic faith, and which holds that mass murder and terror are not only acceptable but necessary,” he said.
“We must tackle this poisonous thinking at home and abroad and resist the ideologues’ attempt to divide the world into a clash of civilisations.”
He added: “We must pursue it with an iron resolve.”
Cameron insisted that a “tough security response” must be matched by an “intelligent political response”.
“We will contribute British intelligence and counter-terrorism assets to an international effort to find and dismantle the network that planned and ordered the brutal assault at In Amenas,” he said.
However his comments in the wake of the Algerian terror attack could signal a shift in his thinking towards an increasingly interventionist approach to foreign policy.
Many observers have noted parallels between his statement to that made by Tony Blair after the 11 September 2001 in New York and Washington.
In 2007, then leader of the Opposition, Cameron explicitly rejected the liberal interventionist approach and rhetoric of Blair that led to the war in Iraq.
“The idea that we should just get out there into the world and ‘sort it all out’ was the right impulse; was morally correct, but failed to strike the right balance between realism and idealism,” he said.
However this approach was challenged by the Arab Spring his decision to involve Britain in the operation to topple Colonel Gaddafi in Libya.
Cameron insisted the UK was “not seeking a combat role in Mali” to assist the French operations, but said the British government would consider providing additional intelligence and transport resources available to Paris.
Ed Miliband said the international community needed to “apply the lessons of the past” and ensure any security response was matched by a diplomatic and political approach.
“The whole country has been shocked as the horrific details of this unprovoked and violent act of terror have emerged,” he said. “This was pre-meditated, cold blooded murder of the most brutal kind.”
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