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:
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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.
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.