r Letter From Eastie: Reason #4187 to hate the Boston Herald.
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Collaged view of Boston, from East Boston

Letter From Eastie

News and other items from East Boston, Massachusetts.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Reason #4187 to hate the Boston Herald.

Ok, so I'm not trying to be flippant about the subject of either Al-qaeda or street gangs, however, the Boston Herald has recently reported in this article that Eastie gang members have ties to Al-qaeda. All this is based on the report that an AQ operative was seen meeting in Honduras with with the leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 as they are commonly known. According to the Herald:
A burgeoning East Boston-based street gang made up of alleged rapists and machete-wielding robbers has been linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network, prompting Boston police to ``turn up the heat'' on its members, the Herald has learned.

MS-13, which stands for La Mara Salvatrucha, is an extremely violent organization with roots in El Salvador, and boasts more than 100 ``hardcore members'' in East Boston who are suspected of brutal machete attacks, rapes and home invasions. There are hundreds more MS-13 gangsters in towns along the North Shore, said Boston police Sgt. Detective Joseph Fiandaca, who has investigated the gang since it began tagging buildings in Maverick Square in 1995.

In recent months, intelligence officials in Washington have warned national law enforcement agencies that al-Qaeda terrorists have been spotted with members of MS-13 in El Salvador, prompting concerns the gang may be smuggling Islamic fundamentalist terrorists into the country. Law enforcement officials have long believed that MS-13 controls alien smuggling routes along Mexico.

I've tried to confirm this story in other media sources and the only other media carrying this story are sources which I consider to have a "right-ish" kind of slant i.e., The Washington Times, Fox New (O'Reilly), New York Post, and Michelle Malkin's Blog.

Before I got a chance to find out more, the Herald then followed up the original story with this little gem. The headline of the article is "Cops: We Nabbed Killer Terror Gangster." Are you kidding me? The story is about how the cops nabbed an Eastie MS-13 member in Somerville for a murder in Washington D.C. Well, hurray for the cops, but this alleged murder had nothing to do with terrorism--so why the headline designed to scare the pants off of the fair citizens of Boston? A paragraph from this article reads:
East Boston was also the home of al-Qaeda terrorist Raed Hijazi, charged with training the suicide bombers in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole; he lived on Shelby Street and drove a cab around Maverick Square. And the two planes used to take down the World Trade Center towers on 9/11 were hijacked from East Boston's Logan International Airport.
Well, that's mighty interesting trivia but what the heck does it have to do with this particular arrest or MS-13? As far as I can see--absolutely nothing.

What I wanted to know is whether or not there is an official U.S. opinion on this alleged connection. In the sources listed above the only thing I could find was a reference to "U.S. Officials" with no indication as to what U.S. Officials. Once again the Boston Herald held the answer for me. In yet another story related to this issue, the Herald describes U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz' (D-Texas) position saying:
A Texas congressman said MS-13 gang members and Middle Eastern aliens are using the border in his district to sneak into the country - and Boston should be worried.
U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz (D-Texas), co-chairman of the House Border Caucus, told the Herald he is ``very concerned'' about al-Qaeda's link to Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a gang he described as ``extremely vicious.'' . . .

Last month, a Muslim man from Bangledesh, Fakhrul Islam, was arrested alongside a reputed MS-13 gang member and 11 others after the group waded across the Rio Grande into Brownsville, Texas.
The alleged MS-13 member, Francky Sanchez-Solorzano, 21, was arrested and deported back to his native Honduras within days of the Dec. 4 bust, Ortiz said. Islam's status in the country remained unclear.
Attorney General John Ashcroft has publicly said a high-ranking al-Qaeda leader, Adnan El-Shukrijumah, has offered top dollar to infiltrate the United States via the Mexican border.
``Boston should be worried,'' said Ortiz's spokeswoman, Cathy Travis. ``These terrorists and gang members are getting on a bus here in Texas and heading to the East Coast.''
There's one problem with this whole story. Apparently the FBI doesn't buy it. Quoted in the same, yes the same Herald Story about Rep. Ortiz is this little tid bit of information:
FBI officials steadfastly deny any connection between MS-13 - a brutal, international criminal organization that has thousands of members across the country - and the terrorist al-Qaeda network.
``The FBI has not established a link between MS-13 and al-Qaeda,'' said Joe Parris, supervisory special agent in the FBI national press office. ``There is no link established.''
The bottom line is that terrorism is a problem and gangs are a problem. The thing is that they are not necessarily the same problem. I think that the key is money. If you call something "anti-gang," you don't get any money. But, if you call it "anti-terrorism," there's money to be had. You can't really blame the Boston Police, or Rep. Ortiz, or even the Salvadoran security officials. The problem, however, is that outlets like the Boston Herald take this information and turn it into typical immigrant baiting stories. From reading the Herald, you'd think you were taking you life into your hands just to step foot in East Boston. Like Maverick Square is some no-man's land occupied by rebel isurgents. I'm not naive, I know that there is plenty of gang activity here in Eastie, but it's not as if there are bullets and machetes flying everywhere you turn. Mostly, I don't see thugs hanging around Maverick Square, I see working people like me. And if I have seen thugs, they've been too busy to bother me so far. The problem with the way the Boston Herald has covered this story is that you get discussions like this one on a free republic, wingnut discussion board. My own personal favorite comment was this one:
Oh *sniff* but they're just pooooor *sniff* immigrants who came here to work *sob*. I hope they catch 'em and have a little accidental dumping of the creeps into the ocean.


  • At 6:46 PM, Blogger Shelley said…

    Wow. I live in Eastie also and, so far (I've only been there about 5 months), it seems safer than my old neighborhood in Jamaica Plain. No machetes, no drug dealers with their freakish birdcalls, not nearly as many creepy loiterers around the Dunkin' Donuts ... although I do have my doubts about whether the Central Park Lanes on Saratoga St. is an actual bowling alley or just a front for the mob. Just saying.

    (Stopped here by way of Boston Common, by the way. Hi!)

  • At 7:29 PM, Blogger Marilora said…

    Thanks for the comment, Shelley. This is a banner day as you are the first confirmed reader outside my circle of friends. Thanks for letting me know about the Boston Common link. It's nice to know that I'm already working my way through my 15 minutes of fame.

  • At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just read your article. My fiance and I moved to Webster St. in January and I recently heard about MS-13. It sounds like you are right about the media trying to hype up the story by connecting MS-13 to terrorist activity. The thing that scares me most are the references to home invasions. Do you have any specific information about when these MS-13 home invasions occured?

  • At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I jus got finished reading your article, and I do agree with you about how the media can portray what is in the best interest of the media. I lived in East Boston my whole life up until two years ago, and useto take the train at Maverick Square everyday sometimes coming home 10:00 or so at night. I never.. ever had one incident with any gang members or anyone else for that matter. It disturbs me too know that now that I am moving back home, due to the media and how they have portrayed things, I have had to fight with my husband to move us and our children back there. He unfortunately has become a victim to all the media manipulation and now not because of the gangs, rather because of the media and it's big stories, I am fighting with my husband to go back home. Yes, gangs are in East Boston.. Terrorists.. yes obviously they are too if they managed to highjack the planes from Logan, but this is nothing new. It is only because of 911 that everyone wants to be a hero and crack down on saving the world because they didn't do their jobs before to prevent it from happening in the first place. But instead of scaring the crap out of people about these issues by making things more than what they are.. they should be educating people so that if they are more aware.. they can help the problem not make it a bigger one by panicking. I believe in informing the american public of what may be lurking in their backyard, but don't scare the crap out of me just so you can get an extra buck in your pocket for creating a story that ran havick on everyone. I want to know what is going on,, but I want the truth.. the good and solid truth. I don't think today's media knows what that is anymore and that is a shame. I useto believe everything I read and felt safe knowing I could rely on people out there to inform me of things that I might be blinded too.. I don't feel that way anymore. So in essence.. instead of utilizing thier power to educate.. they have shunned my belief in that one great right of this country.. freedom of the press. I guess the terrorists won afterall.

  • At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with the anonymous writer who wrote about the press and how they are feeding the fear and the frenzy. I, myself, am moving back to Eastie as well and am dealing with my boyfriend wanting to get a gun, because of the "gangs" and their machetes and terrorists ties. I have tried relentlessly to educate him and tell him I lived there my whole life and never had a problem but he refuses to listen. Both him and I agreed, a long time ago, that once we had children we were not gun people and would not ever have one in our home but because of the media coverage on the MS-13 gang..if I want to go back home, my children have to live in a house with a gun. Does that seem fair? Is my relationship with my boyfriend, was going to be fiance but now not sure, and my children living with a gun worth them getting the props they get from hyping up stories? Doesn't the media understand how they are actually helping the terrorists and the gang members by feeding all this fear into people? Don't they understand the potentially damaging impact they could have on american families like mine? If it is the truth... than yeah, I would want to know.. but if it isn't, or even if their is any doubt, than they have done the gangs and the terrorists a huge favor!!

  • At 6:56 PM, Blogger Antonn said…

    Umm I dunno about you guys, but I've seen MS 13 and Crips in Eastie. MS 13 is spray painted everywhere as MSVIII or MSV3...I've seen guys w/ knives, machetes, guys talking about shooting someone, a month ago someone broke into a neighbor's house, someone has chased my mother, someone exposed himself to me...all in one year! and I live on Princeton St! And in Chelsea about 5 yrs ago MS raped a girl and set her on fire....all they do is cross the bridge or take the bus over. My point is to just be safe and take care of yourselves.


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