Philippines Expels Iraqi Diplomat for Role in Bombing
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The Philippines today expelled a senior Iraqi diplomat, saying there was strong evidence linking him to a weekend bombing in which one Iraqi was killed and another injured.
Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus told reporters that Iraqi First Secretary Muwafak al-Ani was given 72 hours to leave the country.
Government investigator said al-Ani and another Iraqi man, who was arrested today, drove the two bombers to the site of Saturday’s blast.
The bomb went off by accident as one of the Iraqis set the timer, said Sarah Andes, an immigration bureau official. It occurred about a block from a U.S. government-run library in Manila.
If the reports of the Iraqi link are true, it would apparently be the first time Baghdad had carried through - albeit ineffectively - on its threat of global terrorism in response to the U.S.-led assault on Iraq.
Manglapus identified the bombers as Abdul-Kadhim Saad and Ahmed J. Ahmed, who was killed. The two entered the country last month and planned to leave on the night of the bombing for an undisclosed destination abroad, he said.
Miss Andes said the investigation showed al-Ani and another Iraqi man, whose name was not disclosed, dropped Saad and Ahmed off near the Thomas Jefferson Cultural Center about an 1 1/2 hours before the explosion.
The blast smashed windows, blew a two-foot hole in the pavement and hurled Ahmed’s body onto the roof of a house 35 feet away.
On Sunday, the U.S. Embassy said the bombing was apparently ″an example of the announced Iraqi intention to target U.S. and allied installations and interests.″
Previously, officials identified the injured Iraqi as Abdul-Sattar Hashim, a student at the University of Manila. There was no explanation for the confusion over the name. Ahmed’s passport, which identified him as a businessman, was found at the scene of the blast.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Stanley Schrager said American officials assumed the intended target of the bomb was the Jefferson Center, a library operated by the U.S. Information Service. The site is also near buildings of the National Police Commission and the Department of Trade.
Schrager said the Jefferson Center and U.S. government libraries in Davao and Cebu would be closed until further notice. The International School- Manila, about 22 percent of whose 1,800 students are Americans, suspended classes.
About 140,000 Americans live in the Philippines.
Embassy officials said unspecified security measures were undertaken at a U.S. government housing area and other installations. In December 1989, Communist rebels fired grenades at the housing area but there were no injuries.
The Communist-dominated National Democratic Front has threatened attacks on the six U.S. military bases and other U.S. installations because of the gulf attacks.
The Iraqi official, al-Ani, told television network ABS-CBN Sunday that his only knowledge of the bombing came from news reports.
″Our position is Iraq has no intention at all to disturb Philippine security,″ he said. Mrs. Aquino has expressed support for U.S.-led moves to drive Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
Manglapus said al-Ani had been under surveillance for some time. He said surveillance would continue against selected Iraqis and other Middle Easterners, including the 10 remaining employees of the Iraqi embassy.
Last week, Immigration Commissioner Andrea Domingo warned Iraqis, Palestinians and other Arabs not to ″tranport the conflict in the Middle East″ to this turbulent country.