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232 held for spread of terrorism in Xinjiang

By Cathy Wong Source:Global Times Published: 2014-5-12 1:13:01

Police in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have arrested over 200 people in connection with the dissemination of violent or terrorist videos.

This comes weeks after the regional government announced a ban on spreading these videos online, or by using a portable storage device.

Since the end of March, Xinjiang authorities found 2,229 webpage links, cracked 226 cases and arrested 232 people who have circulated videos promoting terrorism through the Internet and on portable devices. Among those arrested, 71 are in criminal detention, 107 are under administrative detention, while 34 people connected to 17 cases have been prosecuted, the Legal Daily reported.

The campaign was jointly announced by Xinjiang's High People's Court, People's Procuratorate, Public Security Bureau, Department of Culture and the Administration for Industry and Commerce on March 31.

The use of webpages, microblogs and Internet chatrooms has become more prevalent in spreading extremist ideology that leads to terrorist actions. In the announcement, the Xinjiang government banned the use of all the aforementioned channels, as well as cellphones, computers, portable storage devices, and mobile instant-message applications like WeChat to download, save, or spread terror-related videos.

Almost every extremist has seen such videos before they resorted to terrorism, according to the report by the Legal Daily. Some of the videos feature lectures on religious extremism and separatist views, while others circulate rumors or information on methods of making guns and explosives, the official paper reported.

In 2013, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement produced 107 videos for terrorist purposes, which exceeded the total amount of all videos from the past years combined, the Legal Daily reported.

"Social networking applications like Weibo and WeChat allow quick and widespread transmission of rumors and misleading messages such as accusing the government of oppression," Pan Zhiping, an expert on terrorism issues at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

However, these videos are still not the dominant method of spreading the knowledge of weapon-making and explosives, as extremists still rely on face-to-face gatherings when organizing attacks, Turgunjan Tursun, an associate research fellow at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

The Internet is used to spread ideology rather than to gather people to launch terrorist attacks, he said.

But the influence of visual images and videos are much more stimulating and far-reaching than words, in particular to teenagers of ethnic minorities, who are easily misled, Turgunjan said.

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