Jihad in Xinjiang

I reported yesterday on the recent attack by terrorists in Xinjiang, who killed sixteen policemen with explosives, guns, and knives.

Today the Chinese have officially labeled the attack “jihad”. According to Al Arabiya :

Chinese officials blame “jihad” for recent attacks

A taxi driver and vegetable seller accused of killing 16 police in China’s restive Western region just days before the Beijing Olympics were religious extremists bent on “jihad”, a top official said on Tuesday.

Evidence from the bloody dawn attack also linked the two men to violent separatist groups who wanted to tarnish the Games, said Shi Dagang, Communist Party chief of the silk road city of Kashgar.

“Religion is more important to them than their own life or peace for their mothers, and so they set out to perform jihad,” Shi told a news conference the day after the killings.

This is an interesting turn of phrase: “Religion is more important to them than… peace for their mothers”. Is this simply a Chinese idiom which doesn’t translate well to English? Or is it a veiled threat invoking the time-honored police state practice of punishing the families of political offenders?

The article continues:
– – – – – – – –

The men are accused of ramming a truck into 70 frontier police out on a dawn training run, then continuing the carnage with homemade explosives, a homemade gun and a collection of knives. Sixteen policemen were injured, four seriously.

The suspects, both members of the largely Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, were arrested on the spot. One is in hospital after blowing an arm off while handling explosives, which Shi said were similar to those seized by police when they raided a separatist training camp in 2007.

Separatist movement

Officials have said Uighur militants seeking to turn the region into an independent “East Turkestan” homeland are among the biggest threats. This year separatist leaders had ordered a string of attacks and sent bomb-making and poisoning manuals to cells in China, Shi said.

In April, public security officials said authorities had foiled plots to kidnap athletes. China earlier said it had foiled a plan by Uighur separatists to bring down a Beijing-bound plane.

“Starting from last year, East Turkestan organizations have been persistently trying to launch activities targeting the Olympic Games,” Shi said. “They want to use the simplest methods to turn 2008 into a year of mourning.”

Despite what the Chinese say, Al Qaeda, as I mentioned yesterday, says that it has no interest in China. Either the local Islamists have their own operational plan, which differs from the official version at AQ headquarters, or the Chinese authorities are ratcheting up the rhetoric for their own purposes. I’m not an expert on the gamesmanship of the region, so I can’t offer a guess as to which of these theories is true.

Hat tip: TB.

2 thoughts on “Jihad in Xinjiang

  1. I agree with InalienableRights and think the suggestive remark about the terrorist’s mothers can be read as a warning and announcement.

    Example: “In East Turkestan, those who are caught praying or studying the Qur’an are punished, particularly if they are aged under 18, because Chinese law explicitly prohibits minors from studying the Qur’an.

    In 1999, for example, five 12-year-olds were arrested for reading the Qur’an. When one of them fled from the police station, his family were arrested and tortured by the police (and told that they would not be released until he gave himself up).”

    Be shure the Chinese will retalliate: they don’t treat their Muslim militant hardheads like teddybears (they way the Weak West does).

    The terrorists from Xinjiang [“Eastern Turkistan”] do have links with Al-Qaeda. The most militant group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is said to be operating in Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and … Pakistan.

    U.S. officials claim that the group has a “close financial relationship” with al Qaeda, based on information they received from militants currently detained at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    They are also a threat to others [from he same source, but there are more]: “Although ETIM has traditionally focused on Chinese targets, it may have plans to also attack American interests. In May 2002, two of its members were accused of planning to bomb the U.S. Embassy in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek.”

    I’m sorry for the long comment here, but I think its very important to keep a sharp eye on these developments China (like you already do).

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