Reasons for War with Iraq

 
State Department's Matthew Daley testified before Congress that a link existed between Iraq and terrorist group Abu Sayyaf

On March 26, 2003, as war raged in Iraq, the State Department's Matthew Daley testified before Congress. Daley, the deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told a subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee that he was worried about Abu Sayyaf and their ties to Iraqi intelligence.

"We're concerned that they have what I would call operational links to Iraqi intelligence services. And they're a danger, they're an enemy of the Philippines, they're an enemy of the United States, and we want very much to help the government in Manila deal with this challenge," Daley told the panel. When asked for a specific example of Abu Sayyaf's ties to Iraqi intelligence, Daley elaborated, "There is good reason to believe that a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group who has been involved in terrorist activities was in direct contact with an IIS officer in the Iraqi Embassy in Manila. This individual was subsequently expelled from the Philippines for engaging in activities that were incompatible with his diplomatic status."

The individual who was expelled was Hisham Hussein, the second secretary of the Iraqi Embassy in Manila.

On October 2, 2002, Abu Sayyaf detonated a nail filled bomb in Zamboanga City. The blast damaged six nearby stores and ripped the front off of a cafe that was popular with American soldiers. On this day, U.S. Special Forces Sergeant First Class Mark Wayne Jackson was killed and a fellow soldier was severely wounded. Cell phone records indicated that the Iraqi diplomat Hisham Hussein had been in regular contact with the leaders of Abu Sayyaf both before and after the attack.

Read below for a partial transcript of Matthew Daley's testimony before the Committee of International Relations in the House of Representatives. For more information on this Abu Sayyaf bombing and the connection with Iraq, read also these articles from: the BBC, Christian Science Monitor, and the Weekly Standard.





U.S. POLICY TOWARD SOUTHEAST ASIA

HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON ASIA AND THE PACIFIC OF THE
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS

FIRST SESSION
MARCH 26, 2003
Serial No. 10821

(partial transcript below)

JERRY WELLER: Mr. Secretary, good afternoon. I appreciate your time today. I apologize for coming in late but I would like to focus on the Philippines if we could, of course, because of some concerns there, and now in that particular area of the Philippines, we have had some joint activity with the Philippines. I was wondering can you bring us up to date what current training joint defense exercises are under way.

MATTHEW DALEY: Mr. Weller, we have probably about 700 U.S. military personnel, more or less, in the Philippines today involved in a series of both exercise and training activities with the armed forces of the Philippines, and we are currently in intensive discussions with the government in Manila on how to make these programs both more effective and larger, with a specific concern with the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) which is one of the preeminent terrorist organizations in the Philippines, and one that has an established record of killing Americans. And I think that at the risk of getting out in front of OMB, which is something I do only at great peril, I am reliably informed that we will be, I hope I am reliably informed, that we will be requesting $30 million in the supplemental appropriations in FMF for the Philippines to further our undertakings on that matter.

JERRY WELLER: Can you also bring us up to the current situation about the progress the Philippine government is making in dealing with the Abu Sayyaf and their progress and eliminating that threat? Have they made progress? Have we gotten results from our joint exercises and activities?

MATTHEW DALEY: It made progress. The last operation which is known as Balikitan, or ''shoulder to shoulder'' in fiscal year 20021, resulted in the freeing of a number of hostages. Tragically, one American, Mr. Martin Burnham, was killed in the firefight that accompanied that rescue attempt. A lot of the senior leadership of the Abu Sayyaf was taken out of action in that activity; but a number that probably ranges from 100 to 300, and we do not have real firm precise numbers on this, still are in business. They have relocated largely from Basilan Island to Jolo Island, and they still pose a danger, not only to us. We believe they are responsible for a bombing in Zamboanga that killed an American special forces sergeant and wounded an officer from the same unit. They are planning other activities and we are concerned that they have what I would call operational links to Iraqi intelligence services.

And they are a danger; they are an enemy of the Philippines. They are an enemy of the United States. And we want very much to help the government in Manila deal with this challenge.

JERRY WELLER: Can you give us an example of their links with the Iraqi intelligence that you can share with us?

MATTHEW DALEY: There is good reason to believe that a member of the Abu Sayyaf group, who has been involved in terrorist activities was in direct contact with an ISS officer in the Iraqi Embassy in Manila. This individual was subsequently expelled from the Philippines for engaging in activities that were incompatible with his diplomatic status.

JERRY WELLER: Mr. Secretary, it is my understanding we recently cancelled a planned U.S. deployment to Jolo Island. I was wondering what discussions have we had with the Philippine government regarding any structuring of any future deployment. Have we have made any plans or changes about how we go about initiating those deployments or structuring them?

MATTHEW DALEY: Mr. Weller, I think you are referring to a series of discussions that we had that did not come to fruition for reasons that are both constitutional and linguistic. We were in discussions about an operation which would have involved American special forces and American Marines in support of the armed forces in the Philippines to go after the ASG. Exactly how we characterize that proposal, how we described it, was a bedeviling process and we could not find the language that was acceptable, both in Manila and in Washington. In part, it is because we have different concepts and we use language in different ways. We have to be very upfront with the Congress when we are going to put our military personnel in circumstances where they are either going to be shot at themselves or where they are going to be shooting at other people. We cannot skate over that. From the Philippines' perspective, their Constitution does not permit foreign forces to engage in combat operations in their country. How precisely to describe this in a way that was mutually acceptable was something we did not pull off successfully.

But we are still at it. And it is my expectation, my hope that within the next few weeks, we will find mutually compatible concepts and mutually acceptable language to describe the operations so that we can both be direct and straightforward with our respective parliaments, and truly do something that is going to be effective to go after the Abu Sayyaf group. If ABS took any joy from the problem we had a few week ago in dealing with this issue, its joy is going to be short-lived.

JERRY WELLER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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