New York (CNN) – After a stealth U.S. military operation, notorious terrorist Osama bin Laden may be dead but the notion of a fundamental conflict between Islam and the West which he advocated remains a problem, according to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper whether the front line in the global war on terrorism has now shifted to Pakistan, the country where bin Laden was found and killed by the United States, or to Yemen, a growing center of influence for al Qaeda and those inspired by al Qaeda, Blair said the issue wasn’t that simple.
“Sometimes people say, ‘Well, what should we be worried about most? Would it be Afghanistan? Would it be Iraq? Would it be Pakistan? Would it be Yemen? Would it be Somalia?’ The answer to that question is all of those, I’m afraid,” Blair said in an interview set to air Friday on AC360°. “For me this is one struggle,” continued Blair, “It’s got many different aspects to it. One is the security aspect. But the other is the narrative, the ideology that people like bin Laden represent. Because my fear is that the narrative has a far broader support than those engaged in extremism would suggest.”
Blair explained that he believes the number of individuals who turn to violence because of radical Islamic beliefs is “a relatively small number.” But, “those that buy into the narrative that there is this fundamental conflict, that the West is oppressing Islam, I think that stretches far deeper.”
Since leaving office in the U.K. Blair has worked as an envoy in the Middle East peace process.
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