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2/18/03 - PHILIPPINES EXPELS IRAQI - 2003-02-20

The Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein denies that it has ties with terrorist groups like al-Qaida. But as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said when he addressed the United Nations Security Council earlier this month, “These denials are simply not credible.”

Case in point: On February 12th, the Philippines expelled Husham Husain, an Iraqi diplomat, from Manila. The Philippine government announced Husain was linked to the Abu Sayyaf group, a terrorist organization operating out of the southern Philippines. Abu Sayyaf is a terrorist group linked to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network. Abu Sayyaf has carried out bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings. Some of its members were trained in al-Qaida terrorist camps in Afghanistan.

On October 2nd, a U.S. soldier was killed in a terrorist attack outside a military base in the southern Philippines. An Abu Sayyaf member was subsequently arrested. According to the Philippine government, Husham Husain, the Iraqi consul, got a phone call from an Abu Sayyaf member after the bombing.

This is not the first time that an Iraqi has been expelled from the Philippines. In 1991, shortly after the beginning of the Persian Gulf War, Muwafak al-Ani, the Iraqi charge d’affaires, in the Philippines, was forced to leave after an Iraqi citizen was killed and another injured when a bomb detonated prematurely. The target of the failed terrorist attack was believed to be a U.S. cultural center.

Following the Philippine government’s announcement regarding the Iraqi diplomat, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Manila said, “The information has serious consequences for the security of both the United States and the Philippines, and we are confident that the government of the Philippines will take all appropriate actions in due course.”

Some may still claim that Saddam Hussein’s secular tyranny and al-Qaida’s Islamic extremism would preclude cooperation between the two. But as Secretary of State Powell put it, “Ambition and hatred are enough to bring Iraq and al-Qaida together.” The U.S. will continue to provide aid in the war against terrorism to the Philippines, and other countries. The U.S., its friends and allies, will press the fight until the terrorists are defeated.