Iraqi diplomat linked to Philippine bombing
Tuesday, February 11, 2003 at 09:15 JST
MANILA – Philippine Foreign Secretary Blas Ople on Monday confronted an Iraqi diplomat over an intelligence report linking another Iraqi diplomat to a bombing in the southern Philippines last October that killed a U.S. serviceman and at least two Filipinos.
Ople told reporters after his meeting with Iraqi Embassy charge d’affaires Samir Bolus that he informed him of the “serious” allegations made in an National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) report that he received last week.
Bolus denied the allegations but promised to instruct the diplomat in question, embassy second secretary Husham Zed Hussain, to avoid any actions that may undermine bilateral relations.
According to Ople, the NICA report said Hussain is suspected of having ties with members of the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim rebel group that has been engaged in kidnapping and acts of terrorism in the southern Philippines.
The U.S. and Philippine governments have linked the Abu Sayyaf with the al-Qaida terrorist network, and Washington has designated it as a foreign terrorist organization.
In December, Philippine authorities arrested suspected Abu Sayyaf operatives alleged to have carried out the Oct. 2, 2002 bombing at a karaoke bar near a military base in Zamboanga City on the southern main island of Mindanao, in which one U.S. soldier was killed and another was seriously wounded.
Ople said the NICA found through tracing telephone records that Abu Sayyaf members called the second secretary immediately after the Zamboanga bombing.
“I am not allowed to discuss these, but these allegations are serious and therefore I had to bring this to the attention of the Iraqi Embassy,” he said.
Ople said he has informed Bolus that the Philippine government will be monitoring the activities of the embassy staff.
Earlier in the day, Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes told reporters that Philippine authorities are trying to verify intelligence reports that Iraq may be funding street protests against the United States in Manila.
National Security Adviser Roilo Golez, along with intelligence officials who have requested anonymity, have said Iraqi diplomats appear to have been directly involved in instigating protests and fanning anti-U.S. sentiment in the capital.
Local militants have mounted small and sometimes violent protests against the U.S., which is seen as pushing for a war on Iraq over Baghdad’s alleged noncompliance with demands to disclose information on its weapons of mass destruction.
The government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been criticized sharply by nationalists and militants opposed to her hawkish stance in support of the U.S. position on Iraq. (Kyodo News)
Japan Today Discussion
Compelling evidence of complicity!
SezWho (Feb 11 2003 – 12:07)
Presumably there is more damning information against Mr. Hussain than that he simply answered his telephone. Might he may have gone so far as to encourage protests against U.S. policy? Judging by the strained nature of these charges, the Philippines appears to have greater complicity with the U.S. than Iraq does with Abu Sayyaf.