TWO years ago today the world was rocked by the biggest terrorist outrage of modern times and as many commentators quite rightly said at the time, the world changed. The attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon marked a watershed in modern day history. It was the Pearl Harbor of the 21st century. Terrorism which had plagued Europe for decades struck the United States. In the same way as Pearl Harbor launched the United States into World War 2 the attack on the Twin Towers launched the international fight against terrorism. But let us not forget that in Europe we have been living with terrorism for decades. London is littered with reminders of terrorist outrages, from anywhere to the Tower of London to the City and Canary Wharf. Spain is still fighting a war against terrorism and the bombings of this summer are clear reminders that the war has certainly not been won. But the action the United States launched following September 11 against terrorism has indeed played a role in pacifying many of Europe's most active terrorist groups. The Basque Separatist Group, ETA, and its political wing is now on the U.S.*s international terror hit-list. I am convinced that pressure from the United States has done plenty to bring peace to Northern Ireland. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar applauded the addition of ETA's political wing to the U.S.*s terror list as a major victory. The message from Washington is that the U.S. will not tolerate any form of terrorism. But it makes me think that if the United States had acted against terrorism with such vigour before September 11 then perhaps the terrorism situation in Europe would not have been so pronounced. Many of the British troops serving in Iraq at the moment have been fighting terrorism for years. Ironically, British experince against terrorism is an asset and the streets of Basra in the U.S.*s crusade against terrorism are being compared to those of Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles two decades ago. In some quarters of the U.S. media these same troops, which were villified by some sections in the U.S. as a force of occupation in Northern Ireland, are now being heralded as a force for freedom in Iraq. The same can be said for Spanish troops who are also now serving in Iraq but who also learnt their skills against terrorism before September 11. Today, is the day to mourn and remember the victims of September 11. I was deeply moved by what I saw at Ground Zero when I visited New York six months ago. The United States should be proud of how New Yorkers have dealt with the horrors of the attacks. But I think it also a fitting moment to remember all the other victims of terrorism from Belfast to Bilbao and across the globe. The fight against international terrorism will continue and I hope one day we can say that the battle will be won. But I also know that it is going to be a long and hard fight and the United States is going to have to draw-on the same sort of courage and will-power that we have shown in Europe over the last decades.
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