Western support for Xinjiang terrorist groups courts disaster

Source:Global Times Published: 2010-7-27 21:45:00

Illustration: Liu Rui

By Li Wei

Over the years, some Western countries have regarded separatists in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as a purely Chinese problem, directly or indirectly providing support and assistance to "East Turkistan" forces and using them in domestic political struggles and as a tool for containing China.

However, in early July this year, Norway and Germany arrested three terrorist suspects in the fight against Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, who may belong to the Turkistan Islamic Party, more commonly known as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

One of the terrorist suspects is a Uyghur from China. The investigation showed that they tried to attack some targets in Norway, Britain and other Western countries. It came as a surprise to those who support the "East Turkistan" forces, and confirmed an old Chinese saying that to "rear a tiger is to court calamity."

Despite the large number of terrorist attacks by "East Turkistan" aiming at splitting China in Xinjiang, some Western forces are still stuck in a Cold War mentality and exercise a double standards, refusing to admit that the East Turkistan separatists are terrorists.

This is especially the case with East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which, despite being a terrorist organization incorporated in the UN Security Council sanctions list, is claimed not to exist at all by some members in US Congress. They argue that China lumps together many disparate organizations under a single label.

They suggested the US Department of State mark it off the terrorist watch list. This is a confusing proposal at a time when the US is supposed to be cooperating with other nations in battling the threat of worldwide terrorism.

The internationalization of terrorist attacks by ETIM should receive high attention from the international community.

In 2003, ETIM absorbed some members of another terrorist organization, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and changed its name to the Turkistan Islamic Party.

That is why there was an Uzbek among the terrorist suspects arrested in Norway. In 2008-09, besides frequently posting terrorist videos against China on the Internet, this organization also sent key members to train the terrorists in China, and launched a series of terrorist attacks in Kashgar and Kuqa of Xinjiang on the eve of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Although ETIM's roots are still located in South Asia together with other international terrorist forces, the terror plot uncovered by Norway shows that the growing diversity of ETIM will inevitably lead to the internationalization of terrorist attacks.

The reason why ETIM becomes more active and aggressive is closely related to another East Turkistan organization, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC). With anti-terrorism efforts deepening in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the ETIM cells in those regions have been moving elsewhere.


In the tribal areas, ETIM allied with other international terrorist organizations, while outside of the tribal areas, it relied on the network branches of the WUC.

Therefore, when Norway captured the members of ETIM, the WUC was panic and held an emergency meeting to deny the relationship, though evidence shows that there has been contact between the two for some time.

Though the WUC publicly claims to fight for the East Turkistan independence through nonviolent means, its internal policy has never abandoned armed struggle.

WUC leader Rabiya Kadeer, who fled China in 2005, didn't give up any opportunity to seek refugee status for terrorist suspects, such as violent terrorists who fled from China to Cambodia. Moreover, Kadeer claimed she wanted to go to Palau and visit the released ETIM members at Guantanamo.

The anti-human and anti-social nature of terrorism does not change no matter where in the world it is. The rampancy of current international terrorism is largely due to the double standards of some Western countries.

While the West was using the East Turkistan forces, the East Turkistan forces were, in turn, making use of the West. Later, when the East Turkistan forces planned terrorist attacks against the West, the "tigers" in captivity of the West revealed their true nature.

The author is director and an anti-terrorism expert of the Institute for Security and Arms Control, China Institute of Contemporary International Relations. forum@ globaltimes.com.cn

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