Death Threat Results in Arrest

April 19, 2011

Rabby Syed at CNMI Senate Hearing, Photo by Itos Feliciano
An arrest has been made in the case of the 22-year-old man who made gruesome death threats against worker advocate Rabby Syed and his family in February 2011. Joaquin H. Tenorio was charged with assault and battery and disturbing the peace.  His hearing will be May 9, 2011.

The death threat was made against the worker leader and his family after the United Workers Movement rally in support of green cards and a pathway to citizenship for long term foreign workers. Because the caller disagreed with nonresidents fighting for their political and social rights, fighting to be lifted out of indentured servitude, fighting to be treated as humans rather than as labor units, and fighting for respect and dignity, he threatened an innocent person and his family causing them much suffering.

The threat was made from a phone traced to the terrorist's aunt's house. In the conversation he threatened to chop off Rabby's hands and feet, and to kill his family. Rabby put the call on speaker phone and a witness also heard and verified the threat.  She took the phone and spoke to the terrorist in Chammoro.  He hung up.

Later the caller and his aunt called Rabby to convince him not to pursue legal action, attempting to apologize away the threat. That call was taped and revealed disturbing information about the incident and motive.

The action taken by the CNMI Office of the Attorney General is a positive sign that the local law enforcement is doing their job.  Many cases committed against foreign workers or their advocates have historically been ignored and never prosecuted, so it is a welcome sign that this case was investigated and an arrest has been made.

Still the racist and poisonous attitude perpetuated by officials and leaders must stop. There is a climate of anti-worker sentiment in the CNMI community that is supported by the current Administration, elected leaders and people in the community who possess power and money.

The Marianas Variety and Saipan Tribune both published the story of the threat.  Comments on the Marianas Variety story revealed a racist and mean-spirited attitude that is poisoning the community and fueling a xenophobic attitude. Some commenters excused the person who threatened to dismember and kill another human being and his family, and then suggested that Rabby made up this story!  This shows the depth of the hatred in the CNMI community. It is a sad commentary. (Read about it here.)

Hopefully, the arrest will serve as a warning to others that such senseless and harmful actions will result in consequences.


Anonymous said...

In my position on Saipan I have had people on the radio call for me to "hung from the highest tree" and "taken out and whipped". Yes, it is disconcerting when it happens, but I am a private citizen just like Mr. Syed. Strike that, I am not a "worker advocate" Mr. Syed. I do not purposely go out and and get in the face of the local people. I am sorry that Mr. Syed had this happen and it does send a chill up your spine when it does, but this is a bit of tempest in a teapot. Does anybody think that he is really going to do anything. Well, if it pushes the cause of showing how mean and vicious the local people are then I would say "Sure, I fear for my life at all times.
You said "This shows the depth of the hatred in the CNMI community. It is a sad commentary" Really? How deep is it? Do 50% of the people here want to kill contract workers? I think this shows exactly how deep the hatred is. One old drunk with a phone and phone number. That's about it.

Anonymous said...

Without this involved in Fed court and/or realistic charges filed by the present NMI AG office this case will never go to trial, a plea deal will further downgrade any charges and Tenorio will be released with the usual sentence,court costs, letter of apology and 'maybe' a short probation.
He was not even required to post bail, plus is related to a cop and "connected" family.
This is all smoke and mirrors to appease some public outcry.
And what about the "other person"?
We shall see.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:30 could be right.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 8:44

This disgusting type of behavior and criminal action is a sad commentary in any community, not just Saipan, but I am talking about a case in Saipan. There is government endorsed and promoted hatred and racism in the CNMI. We see it in the form of the government sponsored rallies, motorcades and other xenophobic activities by felon-run indigenous offices and the governor's office. Also, in remarks by officials and people in position of authority. So why wouldn't backers and other community members follow the "leaders?"

Tempest in the teapot for a criminal act of terrorism threatening to chop off body parts? Really?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I wrote the first comment. My complaint was not in what this guy did. Yeah, he deserves whatever he has coming to him. You do the crime, you should do the time. Unfortunatly, I also agree that probably very little will happen.
But don't let that put the brakes on a good story, right. Because of what this guy did now all the folks in the CNMI hate contract workers?
You said: "There is a climate of anti-worker sentiment in the CNMI community that is supported by the current Administration, elected leaders and people in the community who possess power and money."
Actually, the elected leaders might or might not actually feel this way, but they act this way so what's the difference. The people with power and money got they $$$ FROM the contract workers so I doubt they "hate" them or have "anti-wokers sentiment". They want them to stay here and work. Now, improved status is a different matter. I don't know why you would expect the people with power and money to support losing the workers that made them the power and the money. might be a different matter, but don't confuse the two.
I know many contract workers and they are some of the hardest working folks I know. If you asked me if I support them getting improved status I would say "I am not the one that decides that", which is true. If they get it, fine, if they don't, well, we still have them working which many seem to do cheerfully. I mean, I don't see them getting on plane to Manila because the economic outlook is so good there. Just because I don't actively support improved status does not mean I have any hatred for them.