The way to end terrorism is for the world's rich nations to help the world's poorer nations overcome the conditions of poverty and lack of opportunity in which it breeds, says York MP HUGH BAYLEY

EVERYONE remembers where they were on September 11 last year. Someone in my office was on the phone to 10 Downing Street and the person on the other end just said "I don't believe it" and told us to switch on the news.

It was shocking, horrifying, one of the most lethal attacks in history and there on the television for everyone to see.

We remember the heroism of the firefighters who ran into the twin towers minutes before they collapsed, and the anguish of New Yorkers waiting for news of loved ones. Later we learnt that passengers on a fourth aircraft fought the hijackers and crashed the plane in the countryside before it reached its target. We witnessed personal courage which was humbling to us all.

Tony Blair was right to react immediately and pledge our support to help the US to find the perpetrators to stop them doing the same again.

It was right for humanitarian reasons because you should not turn away when thousands of innocent civilians are murdered; right for political reasons because the United States has been a good ally to Britain, coming to our aid in two world wars; and right for defence reasons because Al Qaida terrorists have innocent civilians in Britain in their sights too.

The recent attempted hijacking in Sweden of a Ryanair plane bound for Britain reminds us not to be complacent.

The most obvious lesson of September 11 is that we face new enemies who are able and willing to attack us in new ways. We have learnt that a clever enemy can inflict enormous damage and loss of life even though they are weaker than the people or country that they attack.

This is called asymmetrical warfare and we are now doing more to protect ourselves from the risk of unconventional attack - a biological weapon in a suitcase, or a computer hacker breaking into the air traffic control system or the Stock Exchange's computers to provoke an economic crisis.

When we looked at how Al Qaida mounted its attacks we realised that terrorism, international crime, money laundering and corruption are linked and feed off each other. Four years ago I introduced legislation in Parliament to outlaw international bribery and corruption and my proposal finally became law in the Anti-terrorism Act which Parliament passed after September 11.

We should not blame Islam for September 11. York's Muslims were as horrified as everyone else and condemned the attacks when I visited their mosques. But we should listen to what they say about injustice - especially to Muslims in Palestine - and to respond to it because the terrorists claim to be fighting against western hatred of Islam.

It is necessary to strengthen our defences against terrorism, but we must not lose sight of the need to tackle international problems so as to avoid conflict whenever possible. This is the single most important lesson of September 11.

Iraq is a real threat. It has used weapons of mass destruction in the past and fired missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia, and it may be harbouring terrorists now. But still we must do everything possible to avoid war.

Tony Blair is right to press Saddam Hussein to let UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq with powers to destroy any weapons they find in order to avoid war.

Last year I visited the Afghan refugee camps. Many refugees were glad we were driving the Taliban from power, but they felt let down by the West.

When they were fighting Russia we backed them, but did nothing to help them to return home when the Russians left Afghanistan. The Taliban filled the power vacuum and recruited angry young men from the camps.

Last week I went to see NATO's peacekeepers in Bosnia and Kosovo. Years after the civil war we still have thousands of British troops there. York's brigadier, Andrew Farquhar, has just arrived to take command of the Dutch, Canadian and British contingents.

The Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims still will not talk or mix, and foreign peace-builders will be there for years to come. Everyone knows that rebuilding peace would have been easier if we had intervened earlier to stop the civil war.

Poverty and conflict breed resentment of rich, safe countries like Britain and the US, and this is exploited by terrorists to win recruits.

So it is in our interests to care about the rest of the world and to help them to overcome their problems. It is also the right thing to do.