Straw: Bin Laden is 'psychotic'
LONDON, England -- Britain's foreign secretary says capturing or killing a "psychotic" Osama bin Laden will not prevent his al Qaeda network from launching fresh terrorist attacks.
The Saudi-born dissident, suspected by the West of being responsible for the September 11 attacks in the U.S., "will get caught in the end," Jack Straw said in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday.
But despite bin Laden's importance, that alone would not shut down his network, Straw said.
He said: "What we know from the way terrorist groups have operated in the past, even when they have been destroyed, is that those still at large may decide to carry out some further acts of terrorism."
The foreign secretary compared the cult of personality built around the al Qaeda chief with that built around Adolf Hitler in Germany in the 1930s, describing it as "similar to the Nazi phenomenon."
Straw, speaking to The Times of London, called bin Laden "paranoid" and "psychotic."
"These words exist to describe people like this because a key characteristic of people who are psychotic and paranoid is the sense of complete detachment from the suffering of others," he said.
He added that bin Laden had shown a "degree of hatred of humankind that is impossible to avoid."
And Straw insisted that terror, not Islam, is bin Laden's true religion.
"It is the religion of terrorism with which we are in conflict," he said.
Straw admitted the U.S.-led coalition against terror was in danger of losing the propaganda battle two or three weeks ago.
However, he believes that has been turned around because America and its allies have raised their game while bin Laden has made errors -- particularly the weekend video broadcast accusing the United Nations of being anti-Muslim.
"(The video) shows a degree of hatred of humankind that is impossible to avoid," he said.
British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said it remained important for the coalition to "roll up" bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
"We will be cutting off its head, and that is the action that's being taken in Afghanistan, and I believe that the network will suffer significant damage as a result of that, and indeed such damage that it's perhaps harder to contemplate how it will carry on," he told BBC radio.
Hoon also said allied bombing of Afghanistan would continue during Ramadan.
"We are very sensitive to the feelings of Muslim people about Ramadan, but equally it was well understood yesterday evening we could not send a signal in advance of Ramadan that military action would end," he said.
"Indeed the strong feeling I got was that there was a preference for moving quickly to resolve the military situation in the best way that we could."
He said two of the three objectives set out at the start of the military campaign had been fully delivered.
"We have attacked the military camps operated by al Qaeda, we've also made it possible to continue coalition military operations over the skies of Afghanistan.
"The third, that is to destroy the support for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, still has to be achieved."
Straw said UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's hectic diplomatic manoeuvres to maintain support for military action against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, which is believed to be harbouring bin Laden, had won Britain a new respect in the world.
And there had been a "psychological shift" among other European Union members who are now expected Britain to give the lead in any talks over the international crisis, he said.
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Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Number 10 Downing Street
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