HomeCommunity IssuesOC Weekly: What Links the Unsolved Murders of Five Vietnamese American Journalists

OC Weekly: What Links the Unsolved Murders of Five Vietnamese American Journalists

Fall of Saigon
Sign commemorates the Fall of Saigon.
“April 30 Sign Hanoi” by Dragfyre – Own work. Licensed under Wikiimedia Commons.

Five murders which all happened between 1981 and 1990 in the Vietnamese American community have one thing in common, reports an investigation published in the OC Weekly by Pro Publica’s AC Thompson.

All were journalists who wrote stories critical of the guerilla army, the Front. Started by Hoang Co Minh, the former officer in the South Vietnamese Navy promised his army would  dethrone the Hanoi government and retake his homeland.

Duong Trong Lam, 27, ran   a Vietnamese-language publication called Cai Dinh Lang. He was gunned down with a single bullet outside his San Francisco apartment.

Magazine publisher Pham Van Tap died in an arson fire in Garden Grove, CA.

Newspaper editor Nguyen Dam Phong of the broadsheet Tu Do was shot seven times with a .45-caliber handgun.

Writer Le Triet and his wife Dang-Tran Thi Tuyet were killed in a spray of .380-caliber bullets as they drove into their driveway outside Washington, D.C.

FBI Agents in San Francisco say the Front used “extortion and other illegal means in the collection and solicitation of money.”  Another FBI report estimated the Front  had raised “several million dollars.”

“What appeared to link them all together were the communiqués,” said Katherine Tang-Wilcox, a former FBI agent. “There were death threats; there were attacks, the murders. These communiqués, they took credit for them, or they threatened they were going to do it.”

According to Tang-Wilcox  the Front formed its own death squad.

Officially the FBI will only say this:

“These cases were led by experienced FBI professionals who collected evidence and conducted numerous interviews while working closely with Department of Justice attorneys to identify those responsible for the crimes and seek justice for the victims,” the statement reads in part. “Despite those efforts, after 15 years of investigation, DOJ and FBI officials concluded that thus far, there is insufficient evidence to pursue prosecution.”

The Pro-Publica investigation paints a different picture. It talked to former member of the Front, along with numerous former FBI agents who worked on the case.

You can read what they all had to say in the OC Weekly.



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