As allied and neutral governments took steps to counter Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's threats of an international terrorist campaign, the Philippines yesterday ordered the expulsion of a senior Iraqi diplomat because of what it called "strong evidence" linking him to an attempted anti-U.S. bombing in Manila.
An Egyptian opposition weekly reported that Egypt has arrested 17 suspected pro-Iraqi terrorists trying to enter that country with forged documents. An Interior Ministry spokesman in Cairo declined to comment.
France expelled 12 Iraqi diplomats and their dependents, leaving only the ambassador and four aides. The Netherlands ordered four Iraqi diplomats and their chauffeur out of the country in 24 hours. Only the ambassador and one attache were allowed to remain. Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Robert van Lanschot denied the expulsions were prompted by Saddam's terrorist threats. He said there was no need for the Iraqis to have "such a large staff" in view of "the present level of relations."
Similar expulsions and deportations were expected in Italy and Greece. And officials in Britain said they had detained 72 Iraqis whom they consider a security risk.
The Austrian Interior Ministry announced yesterday that it had arrested 11 members of a suspected terrorist commando unit in and around Vienna since Saturday and said they were believed to be part of a Europe-wide network.
News reports in Vienna asserted the 11 were Iranian members of a pro-Iraqi group and were carrying forged travel documents. They were still being interrogated yesterday, officials said.
Canadian officials said three Iraqi diplomats expelled over the weekend had ties to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite movement. "The war has led to some very strange bedfellows among terrorist groups," Reuter quoted a Canadian government source as saying.
In other incidents that raised suspicions of retaliation by Baghdad:
Turkish police said several bombs exploded at a NATO maintenance facility in Istanbul last night, shattering windows and causing other damage. An anonymous caller claimed responsibility for the blast in the name of DevSol, a militant communist group that some thought had been eradicated.
An antitank weapon was fired at the Italian Embassy in Beirut late Sunday and a bomb exploded at a nearby British bank a few hours earlier. No injuries were reported.
In Manila, Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus told reporters that Iraqi Consul General Muwafak Ani, the number two diplomat at his embassy, had been given 72 hours to leave the country as a result of "strong evidence" linking him to Saturday's attempted bombing of a public library run by the U.S. Embassy.
Police said a 200-pound bomb exploded prematurely in the Makati financial district about a block from the library, killing one of the Iraqis carrying it and wounding another. The blast was so powerful that half of the dead man's body was blown onto the roof of a nearby house.
The dead man was identified from his Iraqi passport as Ahmed J. Ahmed, a Baghdad-based businessman who entered the Philippines Dec. 6. The wounded Iraqi, described as a university student named Abdul Kadhim Saad, gave police the telephone number of the Iraqi Embassy in Manila when he was taken to a hospital, authorities said.
Police later arrested another Iraqi student, Abdul Hashim Sattar, 31, whom they identified as a son of Iraq's ambassador to Somalia. Authorities said a car used in the attempted bombing was driven by Sattar and belonged to Ani, who was said to have been a passenger.
The incident appears to be the first in which investigators openly have tied the lraqi government to an attempted terrorist attack since the U. S.-led air war against Iraq began last week.
The State Department said it was "gratified" by the expulsion order.
"The Philippine government and others around the world are demonstrating to all concerned that they will not tolerate Iraqi-sponsored terrorism and are committed to taking action against those responsible for organizing terrorist attacks," said State Department spokesman Martin Judge.
Saddam has repeatedly called on Moslems around the world to join in a "holy war" against U.S. and allied forces. In a speech Sunday, he tried to assure them that even if caught, they would be treated as "prisoners of war" and released at war's end.
State Department spokesman Judge said the Sunday speech "clearly demonstrates the degree of state sponsorship by Iraq of acts of international terrorism."
Washington Post correspondent William Branigin in Manila and special correspondents Michael Z. Wise in Vienna and John Arundel in Cairo contributed to this article.