A top al Qaeda lieutenant has met with leaders of a violent Salvadoran criminal gang with roots in Mexico and the United States including a stronghold in the Washington area in an effort by the terrorist network to seek help infiltrating the U.S.-Mexico border, law enforcement authorities said.
Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, a key al Qaeda cell leader for whom the U.S. government has offered a $5 million reward, was spotted in July in Honduras meeting with leaders of El Salvador’s notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang, which immigration officials said has smuggled hundreds of Central and South Americans mostly gang members into the United States.
Although they are actively involved in alien, drug and weapons smuggling, Mara Salvatrucha members in America also have been tied to numerous killings, robberies, burglaries, carjackings, extortions, rapes and aggravated assaults including at least seven killings in Virginia and a machete attack on a 16-year-old in Alexandria that severely mutilated his hands.
The Salvadoran gang, known to law enforcement authorities as MS-13 because many members identify themselves with tattoos of the number 13, is thought to have established a major smuggling center in Matamoros, Mexico, just south of Brownsville, Texas, from where it has arranged to bring illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico into the United States.
Authorities said al Qaeda terrorists hope to take advantage of a lack of detention space within the Department of Homeland Security that has forced immigration officials to release non-Mexican illegal aliens back into the United States, rather than return them to their home countries.
Less than 15 percent of those released appear for immigration hearings. Nearly 60,000 illegal aliens designated as other-than-Mexican, or OTMs, were detained last year along the U.S.-Mexico border.
I’ve had my eye on this story for a few weeks now. To his credit, Texas Democrat Rep. Solomon Ortiz (call him the Dems’ Tom Tancredo) has been recently sounding the alarm about the al Qaeda/illegal alien gang connection–as well as our idiotic catch-and-release policies. Too bad more of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle have failed to join him in stopping the revolving door.
One solution, the Homeland Security Enhancement Act of 2003, sponsored by Sens. Jeff Sessions and Zell Miller, would have strengthened interior enforcement and increased detention space. I was among those who testified in favor of the bill here. It was opposed by immigration Pollyannas on the left and right.
-For more from Ortiz on al Qaeda and OTMs at the border, see here.
As I’ve said many times before in response to the mindless open borders mantra (repeated by President Bush in his interview with Bill O’Reilly Monday night) that “Family Values Don’t Stop at the Border,” terrorists and criminal aliens don’t stop there either.
The outrage is not that the terrorist head-choppers and the illegal alien gang hand-choppers are working together–but that we’re doing nothing to stop them.