The 9/11 terrorists failed to undermine the faith of “free peoples” around the world in open societies, Boris Johnson has said.
In a defiant message to mark the 20th anniversary of the attack by al Qaida on the Twin Towers in New York, the Prime Minister said that while the threat remained people refused to live their lives in “permanent fear”.
In his address, which will be played to a memorial event at the Olympic Park in east London on Saturday, he said recent events in Afghanistan had only strengthened people’s belief in freedom and democracy.
“Twenty years ago, September 11 2001 became, in President Roosevelt’s words after Pearl Harbour, a ‘date which will live in infamy’,” he said.
“On a crystal clear morning, terrorists attacked the United States with the simple goal of killing or maiming as many human beings as possible, and by inflicting such bloodshed in the world’s greatest democracy, they tried to destroy the faith of free peoples everywhere in the open societies which terrorists despise and which we cherish.
“And it is precisely because of the openness and tolerance of the United States that people of almost every nationality and religion were among the 2,977 murdered on that day, including 67 Britons, each of them a symbol of the eternal friendship between the United Kingdom and the United States.
“But while the terrorists imposed their burden of grief and suffering, and while the threat persists today, we can now say with the perspective of 20 years that they failed to shake our belief in freedom and democracy; they failed to drive our nations apart, or cause us to abandon our values, or to live 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.
“Recent events in Afghanistan only strengthen our determination to remember those who were taken from us, cherish the survivors and those who still grieve and hold fast to our belief in liberty and democracy, which will always prevail over every foe.”