Midwestern farmlands seem an unlikely hideout for Osama bin Laden’s hired hands, but an ongoing federal crackdown reveals the increased presence here of a notoriously violent gang with suspected links to al-Qaida.
Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a gang founded in El Salvador and known for smuggling drugs and immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border, could be bringing terrorists with them.
“The al-Qaida, from what we understand, has been meeting with them in Central America,” said Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Texas, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees national security.
Ortiz testified in March that al-Qaida has offered MS-13 about $250,000 to smuggle “high value al-Qaida operatives across the border.”
“Only God knows who or what they’ve been able to bring in” to the United States, Ortiz told The Associated Press.
The FBI estimates up to 30,000 MS-13s are in the United States.