British prime minister, queen mark 20 years since 9/11

JOHNSON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures at a media briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in Downing Street, London, Britain, on Jan. 15. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Pool via Reuters

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other British leaders have marked the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks by praising the international resolve that has grown from the al-Qaida-led tragedy.

In a defiant video message released on Saturday, the prime minister said the threat of terrorism remained but people refused to live their lives in "permanent fear."

"The fact that we are coming together today — in sorrow but also in faith and resolve — demonstrates the failure of terrorism and the strength of the bonds between us," Johnson said.

The queen remembered her visit to the site of the attack.

In a message to U.S. President Joe Biden, she said: "As we mark the 20th anniversary of the terrible attacks on September 11, 2001, my thoughts and prayers, and those of my family and the entire nation, remain with the victims, survivors and families affected, as well as the first responders and rescue workers called to duty.

"My visit to the site of the World Trade Centre in 2010 is held fast in my memory. It reminds me that as we honour those from many nations, faiths and backgrounds who lost their lives, we also pay tribute to the resilience and determination of the communities who joined together to rebuild."

The leader of Britain's opposition Labor Party, Keir Starmer, said the consequences of the attacks were "still being felt to this day," adding the tragedy was "still so raw."

He said: "But as we mark this anniversary I'm convinced our resolve has never been stronger. We will continue to fight terror and violence, by promoting our values of justice and peace."

Johnson said recent events in Afghanistan had only strengthened people's belief in freedom and democracy.

The political leaders' comments came as the British prime minister at the time of the attacks — Tony Blair — said the international community must be prepared to take action against the Taliban if they again allow Afghanistan to become a base of terrorism.

Blair said the US and its allies had no choice but to invade after the Taliban refused to give up the al-Qaida leadership responsible for the attacks.

The former head of the British armed forces, General Lord Richards, said the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan raised the prospect of "another 9/11" as ungoverned spaces opened up which the terrorists were able to exploit.

"I think we are (closer to another 9/11). We've now been pitched back into a dark period which we somehow have to manage," he told the LBC radio station.

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