Strike on ETIM chief points to joint Sino-US anti-terror action

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/3 23:43:39

A US-led drone strike in Sarmada, northwestern Syria, reportedly claimed the lives of eight people on Sunday, including Abu Omar al-Turkistani, a Syrian Al Qaeda commander as well as a head of the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), a branch of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), according to media outlets.

The news quickly triggered sweeping support on the Chinese Internet, with many netizens giving their thumbs up and even calling it a "superb New Year's gift." Amid applause for the move from the US, the event also indicates the internationalization of terrorism and the significance of joint anti-terror efforts.

ETIM, created and based in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, is a global terrorist organization that has carried out a series of terror attacks not only in China, but also abroad. In September 2016, Kyrgyzstan confirmed that the bomb attack at the Chinese Embassy in the country was carried out by the terror group. The suicide bombing at a train station in Urumqi, Xinjiang in April 2014 and the deadly explosion in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in October 2013 were both launched by ETIM.

The UN listed ETIM as a terrorist organization in 2002. Yet over the past years, some Western nations have been refusing to cooperate with Beijing, and even accused China of violating freedom of religion when it comes to cracking down on ETIM, which shielded the emergence of the extremist group.

Given geopolitical factors, interests and competition among major powers, international anti-terror collaborative actions have been far from effective. However, if every nation only cares about its own interests and short-term prospects while standing aloof from other countries' terrorist threats, nobody can be immune from the expansion of terrorism in the end.

Taking a look at the global map of terrorist attacks in 2016, one can easily find that almost all continents have suffered from deaths and injuries due to waves of terrorism.

In the meantime, members of ETIM are not solo players in this drama but have traveled around and helped local jihadist groups to jeopardize peace and security in quite a few regions. Western nations finally realized they themselves are also at risk and started to acknowledge the nature of ETIM while stepping up strikes against it.

The recent drone strike will without question help take joint work between Beijing and Washington in anti-terrorism to the next level as well as promote global coordination over the issue. Today's China is both a competitor and a partner of the US - this is an undeniable reality. If the two sides can create more room for collaboration through fighting against ETIM, it will beyond doubt benefit both in the long run.

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