Ken Livingstone yesterday blamed western policies for contributing to the spread of the extremist beliefs that inspired the London bombers. The mayor of London highlighted the West’s role in the creation of al-Qa’eda by saying: “We created these people. We built them up. We funded them.”
Mr Livingstone has condemned the London bombings in the strongest terms, and immediately after the attack he was widely praised for the way he spoke up on behalf of all Londoners.
But yesterday he abandoned his consensual approach when he claimed that western policies in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq may have influenced the bombers.
Mr Livingstone said: “This particular strand of extremism was funded by the West in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden was just another businessman until he was recruited by the CIA.
“I suspect the real problem was that we funded these people, as long as they were killing Russians. We gave no thought to the fact that when they stopped killing Russians they might start killing us.”
Mr Livingstone also defended Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the controversial cleric who visited London at his invitation last year and who had been scheduled to attend a conference in Manchester next month.
He said Mr al-Qaradawi was a “leading progressive Muslim” who was not actually going to the conference and who had condemned the London attacks.
Asked about Mr al-Qaradawi’s apparent support for Palestinian suicide bombers, Mr Livingstone said the cleric’s views had been misreported.
See also “Mayor blames Middle East policy”, BBC News, 20 July 2005