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U.S.: Iraqi Terror-Attack Plans Thwarted

U.S.: Iraqi Terror-Attack Plans Thwarted

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department said on Friday it had information that Iraqi intelligence officers planned terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in two foreign countries.

In both cases, the operatives were arrested, terrorist material was confiscated and attacks were not carried out, spokesman Richard Boucher said.

The United States has asked a number of countries to expel suspected Iraqi intelligence officers based on "the significant threat posed by their presence," Boucher said.

He declined to identify the two countries in the alleged terror plots, but a U.S. counterterrorism official who spoke on condition of anonymity said one was Jordan.

"Officers in the Iraqi intelligence service remain a threat because of their history of support for terrorism," said spokesman Boucher. "The United States will continue to monitor this situation and work with our partners and allies to ensure the safety of American citizens and facilities overseas."

Last week, the State Department announced the three Iraqi diplomats remaining in Washington had been ordered to leave. The government called on countries with diplomatic ties to Iraq to expel Iraq's senior envoys as well.

No precise information on the terror-plan allegations was made available to reporters who were assembled at the department for the announcement. The basic information announced Friday has been made known to other countries, officials said.

There are indications that U.S. facilities were targeted, one senior official said.

Some 17 countries have expelled Iraqi intelligence officers, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. A like number of countries expelled Iraqi agents during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the official said.

He said he did not know if the agents alleged to have been involved in plots were operating out of embassies.

Last month, Philippine officials expelled an Iraqi consul, Husham Husain, over suspicion of links with Filipino Muslim extremists.

The Philippines, one of Washington's staunchest Asian allies in the global war on terrorism, has increasingly been sensitive to possible security threats, especially after it joined last week the coalition of countries backing Washington's military action against Iraq.

And this week, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered the expulsion of an Iraqi diplomat and another Iraqi Embassy staffer in accord with the U.S. request.

She said there was "some evidence of espionage" against the two.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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