- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 18, 2003

Romania foils plot

The U.S. Embassy in Romania is praising the swift action of the country’s intelligence agents in foiling a terrorist plot to attack U.S. buildings in the capital, Bucharest, before the war in Iraq.

“We can confirm that there was, indeed, a threat to U.S. government facilities during the period leading up to hostilities in Iraq,” the embassy said in a statement last week.

“We very much appreciate the strong assistance and cooperation of Romanian political, intelligence and military officials throughout this period in deterring this threat.”

The Romanian Information Service (RIS), the country’s intelligence agency, said Thursday that terrorists had planned to use anti-tank grenade launchers supplied by a diplomat at the Iraqi Embassy in Bucharest. The RIS said the plot also targeted Israeli interests in Romania.

The government expelled 10 Iraqi diplomats and 31 “Iraqi and other” nationals in March and April, after discovering their links to the plot.

“Before the outbreak of the war on Iraq, the RIS obtained information about plans for terrorist attacks targeting Western and Israeli interests in Romania,” the RIS said in a statement Thursday.

“The attacks were to be carried out using AG-7 anti-tank grenade launchers which were to be supplied by the head of the espionage service inside the Iraqi Embassy in Bucharest.

“As the process of identifying the people who were to carry out the attacks developed, the intelligence service recommended they be expelled.”

The RIS said documents discovered by U.S.-led coalition forces in the headquarters of the Iraqi intelligence service confirmed the plot.

Saad Majid, Iraq’s ambassador to Romania, was recalled to Baghdad in mid-March.

Somoza’s daughter dies

Lillian Somoza de Sevilla Sacasa, whose father ruled Nicaragua in the 1930s, died last week in Washington, the Nicaraguan Embassy announced. She was 82.

The cause of her death and details on her funeral were not released.

Mrs. Sevilla Sacasa’s late husband, Guillermo Sevilla Sacasa, was Nicaragua’s ambassador to the United States from 1943 until the Marxist Sandinista revolution in 1979 ended the Somoza family dynasty. As the most senior foreign diplomat in Washington, he was dean of the diplomatic corps.

She was the only daughter of Anastasio Somoza Garcia, who established the regime that was inherited by his son, Anastasio Somoza Debayle. Mrs. Sevilla Sacasa’s portrait appeared on the Nicaraguan currency, the cordoba, between 1940 and 1960.

The Sandinistas ousted Mr. Somoza Debayle, who fled into exile in Paraguay, where he was killed in 1980.

Mrs. Sevilla Sacasa’s son, Eduardo Sevilla Somoza, serves as Nicaraguan ambassador to the United Nations.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


• Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who meets President Bush and attends a state dinner in her honor.

• President Hipolito Mejia of the Dominican Republic, who meets President Bush and members of Congress this week to discuss a bilateral free-trade agreement. He holds a 10 a.m. news conference Wednesday at the National Press Club.

• German Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement, who meets Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan.

• Shashi Tharoor, U.N. undersecretary general for communications and public information, who speaks at an international aid conference held by InterAction.

• Azmi Bishara, a Palestinian Arab member of the Israeli parliament, who addresses the Global Exchange organization on President Bush’s Middle East peace plan at 10 a.m. at the National Press Club.


• Bahrain Crown Prince Sheik Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, commander in chief of Bahrain’s defense force.


• Shafiq Ghabra, former director of the Kuwait Information Office in Washington and now the first president of the new American University of Kuwait. He addresses the Middle East Institute on Arab views of the war in Iraq and the country’s reconstruction.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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