Region Warns of al-Qaeda Link with Gangs

October 8, 2004

GUATEMALA CITY (AFP) –Guatemala’s Vice-President Eduardo Steinwarned Monday of a possible connectionbetween members of the terrorist networkal-Qaeda and youth gangs in CentralAmerica.“We have received intelligence informationthat contacts have been madebetween al-Qaeda and the gangs,” Steinsaid during a press conference. “Inreality, though, we don’t have any proofthat this is happening in Guatemala.”He said the intelligence shows thecontact point between al-Qaeda and theCentral American gangs Mara-18 andMara Salvatrucha is thought to be insideprisons in California.Authorities are also investigating possibleal-Qaeda links in Honduras, followingreports that a known terrorist hadpassed through Tegucigalpa last May andallegedly was plotting to bomb thePanama Canal (TT, July 2).Central America has been on highalert for al-Qaeda activity since lastweek, when new intelligence informationsurfaced about links with regionalgangs.The Nicaraguan daily La Prensareported last Friday that NicaraguanPresident Enrique Bolaños had traveledsecretly to El Salvador last week for aclandestine presidential summit to discussthe alleged terrorist-gang link – an eventBolaños denies occurred.

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