East Turkestan Islamic Movement

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This article is about an Islamist-based organization. For the nationalist movement, see East Turkestan independence movement.
Turkestan Islamic Party
Etim tip logo.JPG
Turkistan Islamic Party
Major actions 1997 — present
Leader(s) Hasan Mahsum
Abdul Haq
Abdul Shakoor al-Turkistani
Abdullah Mansour[1]
Motives An Islamic state in Xinjiang
Active region(s) China (Xinjiang)
Pakistan (North Waziristan)
Afghanistan
Central Asia
Syria[2]
Ideology Uyghur nationalism
Islamism
Islamic fundamentalism
Sunni Islam
Pan-Islamism
Status No longer designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US. Was proscribed by the United Nations and five other governments (see below)
Size about 1000 operatives[3]

The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) (also known as the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), Turkistan Islamic Movement (TIM), and other names[a]; is an Islamic terrorist and separatist organization founded by Uyghur militants in western China. Its stated goals are the independence of East Turkestan from China. According to the Chinese government, it is a violent separatist movement and is often responsible for terrorist attacks in Xinjiang. For instance, in 2005, NBC News said that between 1990 to 2001 ETIM had reportedly committed over 200 acts of terrorism, resulting in at least 162 deaths and over 440 injuries.[4] After the 9/11 attacks, ETIM was placed on the United States' Terrorist Exclusion List, where it remains to this day, despite some claims to the contrary reported variously across the Internet.[5]

History[edit]

Flag of Jihad
Flag of Turkistan Islamic Party

The area known as East Turkestan had been a protectorate of China as early as 60 BC[citation needed], though there are numerous periods of independence from China. In the 18th century the Qing Dynasty reorganized the territory as a province, Xinjiang.[6] Yet, Russian influence was strong. Russian Orthodox Old Believers emigrated from Russia to Xinjiang in the early 19th century, and the Russian Civil War accelerated this immigration by adding white émigrés.[7] During China's warlord era in the 1910s-1920s, the Soviet Union propped up the separatist Second East Turkestan Republic, and only accepted Chinese rule when the Chinese communists established the People's Republic of China after the Chinese Civil War.[8] Nevertheless, the Soviet Union distributed Soviet passports among the Central Asian ethnics in Xinjiang to facilitate emigration to Kazakh SSR.[7] After the Sino-Soviet split, the Soviet Union amassed troops on the Russian border with Xinjiang, and bolstered "East Turkestan" separatist movements, which received moral and material support from other regional militant groups.[9] China accused the Soviets of engineering riots, and improved the military infrastructure there to combat it.[7]

The East Turkestan Islamic Movement was founded in 1993 by two natives of Hotan, but it failed to last to year's end. Hasan Mahsum and Abudukadir Yapuquan reorganized the movement in 1997, in the same form that it exists today.[10] In 1998 Mahsum moved ETIM's headquarters to Kabul, taking shelter under Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, ETIM leaders met with Osama bin Ladin and other leaders of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to coordinate actions. There, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement dropped the "East" from its name as it increased its domain.[11] The group's infrastructure was crippled after the United States invaded Afghanistan and bombed Al Qaeda bases in the mountainous regions along the border with Pakistan, during which the leader of ETIM, Hasan Mahsum, was killed.[12]

However, ETIM resurged after the Iraq War inflamed mujaheddin sentiment.[13] It expanded its portfolio to attacks on United States interests, such as the U.S. embassy in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan). The United States Department of State responded by listing it as a terrorist organization. This greatly weakened ETIM, as it lost sympathy from many Western organizations who would otherwise support its struggle against China. Nonetheless, ETIM circulated a video in 2006 calling for a renewed jihad, and took advantage of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing to gain publicity for its attacks.[11] The ETIM is said to be allied with the Taliban,[14] who have received funding from rogue elements in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI),[15] leading Pakistan being seriously urged by China to take action against militants.[16]

Ideology[edit]

The NEFA Foundation, an American terrorist analyst foundation, translated and released a jihad article from ETIM, whose membership it said consisted primarily of "Uyghur Muslims from Western China." The East Turkestan Islamic Movement's primary goal is the independence of East Turkestan.[17] ETIM continues this theme of contrasting "Muslims" and "Chinese", in a six minute video in 2008, where "Commander Seyfullah" warns Muslims not to bring their children to the 2008 Summer Olympics, and also saying "do not stay on the same bus, on the same train, on the same plane, in the same buildings, or any place the Chinese are".[18]

Terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna has said that ETIM is closely associated with the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), and that there are "many sympathizers and supporters" of ETIM in the WUC. China has accused the WUC of orchestrating the 2009 ethnic violence in Urumqi; similarly, Gunaratna said that one of ETIM's aims is to "fuel hatred" and violence between the Han and the Uyghur ethnic groups, adding that it represented a threat to China and the Central Asia region as a whole.[19]

Structure[edit]

In October 2008, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security released a list of eight terrorists linked to ETIM, including some of the leadership, with detailed charges.[20] They are:

Name Aliases Charges Whereabouts
Memetiming Memeti Abdul Haq Leading the organization, inciting ethnic tensions in 2006 and 2007, buying explosives, organizing terrorist attacks against the 2008 Summer Olympics Killed in North Waziristan drone attack[21]
Emeti Yakuf
(Emet Yakuf)
Aibu Abudureheman, Saifula, Abdul Jabar Threatening to use biological and chemical weapons against servicepeople and Western politicians for the 2008 Olympics, disseminating manuals on explosives and poisons Killed in North Waziristan drone attack[22]
Memetituersun Yiming
(Memet Tursun Imin)
Abuduaini Raised funds for ETIM, tested bombs in the run-up to the Olympics Since 2008, Western Asia
Memetituersun Abuduhalike
(Memet Tursun Abduxaliq)
Metusun Abuduhalike, Ansarui, Naijimuding Attacked government organizations, money laundering for ETIM operations, buying vehicles and renting houses for attacks Unknown
Xiamisidingaihemaiti Abudumijiti
(Xemsidinahmet Abdumijit)
Saiyide Recruiting for ETIM in the Middle East, blew up a Chinese supermarket Unknown
Aikemilai Wumaierjiang
(Akrem Omerjan)
Assisted Xiamisidingaihemaiti Abudumijiti in the supermarket attack Unknown
Yakuf Memeti
(Yakuf Memet)
Abudujilili Aimaiti, Abudula, Punjab Sneaked into China illegally to gather information on Chinese neighborhoods, a failed suicide attack against oil refinery Killed in North Waziristan drone attack[23]
Tuersun Toheti
(Tursun Tohti)
Mubaixier, Nurula Organizing a terror team for the 2008 Olympics, buying raw materials for them and requesting chemical formulas for explosives Killed in North Waziristan drone attack[23]

Guantanamo Bay detainees[edit]

The United States captured 22 Uyghur militants from combat zones in Afghanistan in 2006 on information that they were linked to Al-Qaeda.[24] They were imprisoned without trial for five to seven years, where they testified that they were trained by ETIM leader Abdul Haq, at an ETIM training camp. After being reclassified as No Longer Enemy Combatant,[25] a panel of judges ordered them released into the United States. Despite the alarm of politicians that the release of terrorist camp-trained Uyghurs into the United States was unsafe and illegal, they could not be released back to China because of its human rights record.[26] Some of the Uyghurs have been transferred to Palau, and some to Bermuda despite objections by the United Kingdom, but the United States is having difficulties finding governments who will accept the rest.[27]

Attacks[edit]

In 2007, ETIM militants in cars shot Chinese nationals in Pakistani Balochistan and sent a videotape of the attack to Beijing, in retaliation for an execution of an ETIM official earlier that July.[3] ETIM also took credit for a spate of attacks before the 2008 Summer Olympics, including a series of bus bombings in Kunming, an attempted plane hijacking in Urumqi,[25] and an attack on paramilitary troops in Kashgar that killed 17 officers.[28] On June 29, 2010, a court in Dubai convicted two members of an ETIM cell of plotting to bomb a government-owned shopping mall that sold Chinese goods. This was the ETIM plot outside of China or Central Asia. The key plotter was recruited during Hajj and was flown to Waziristan to train.[29] In July 2010, officials in Norway interrupted a terrorist bomb plot, another instance of ETIM branching out of its original regions and cooperating with international groups. New York Times correspondent Edward Wong says that ETIM "give[s] them a raison d'être at a time when the Chinese government has... defused any chance of a widespread insurgency... in Xinjiang."[28]

In October 2013, a suicide attack in Tiananmen Square caused 5 deaths and 38 injuries. Chinese police described it as the first terrorist attack in Beijing's recent history. Turkistan Islamic Party later claimed responsibility for the attack.[30]

Analysis[edit]

Critics say that the threats ETIM itself makes are exaggerated, and that ETIM embellishes its own image and commits psychological warfare against China for its false threats, including forcing it to increase security. Dru C. Gladney, an authority on Uyghurs, said that there was "a credibility gap" about the group since the majority of information on ETIM "was traced back to Chinese sources", and that that some believe ETIM to be part of a US-China quid pro quo, where China supported the US-led War on Terror, and "support of the US for the condemnation of ETIM was connected to that support."[31] The Uyghur American Association has publicly doubted the ETIM's existence.[32]

On June 16, 2009, Representative Bill Delahunt convened hearings to examine how organizations were added to the US blacklist in general, and how the ETIM was added in particular.[33] Uyghur expert Sean Roberts testified that the ETIM was new to him, that it wasn't until it was blacklisted that he heard of the group, and noted that "it is perfectly reasonable to assume that the organization no longer exists at all."[33] The Congressional Research Service reported that the first published mention of the group was in the year 2000, but that China attributed attacks to it that had occurred up to a decade earlier.[33]

Stratfor has noted repeated unexplained attacks on Chinese buses in 2008 have followed a history of ETIM targeting Chinese infrastructure, and noted the group's splintering and subsequent reorganization following the death of Mahsum.[34]

Intelligence analysts J. Todd Reed and Diana Raschke acknowledge that reporting in China presents obstacles not found in countries where information is not so tightly controlled. However, they found that ETIM's existence and activities could be confirmed independently of Chinese government sources, using information gleaned from ETIM's now-defunct website, reports from human rights groups and academics, and testimony from the Uyghur detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Reed & Raschke also question the information put out by Uyghur expatriates that deny ETIM's existence or impact, as the Uyghurs who leave Xinjiang are those who object most to government policy, are unable to provide first-hand analysis, and have an incentive to exaggerate repression and downplay militancy. They say that ETIM was "obscure but not unknown" before the September 11 attacks, citing "Western, Russian, and Chinese media sources" that have "documented the ETIM's existence for nearly 20 years".[35]

Designation as terrorist organization[edit]

Countries and organizations below have officially listed the Turkestan Islamic Movement as a terrorist organization.

Country Date References
 Russia 2006 [36]

After the 9/11 attacks, ETIM was placed on the United States' Terrorist Exclusion List, which includes organizations conducting terrorist activities.[5]

The group was also classified as 'terrorist' by the following:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • ^a The official name of the organization since 1999 is the "Turkistan Islamic Movement", but in English it is known by its old name and acronym, ETIM.[11][18] Other aliases adopted over the years are "East Turkistan Islamic Party", "Allah Party", and "East Turkistan National Revolution Association".[40]

References[edit]

  1. ^ MacLean, William (2013-11-23). "Islamist group calls Tiananmen attack 'jihadi operation': SITE". Reuters. 
  2. ^ "TIP Division in Syria Releases Video Promoting Cause, Inciting for Jihad". SITE Institute. 2014-06-06. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  3. ^ a b c d Ansari, Massoud (2007-08-03). "The New Face of Jihad". Newsline. Retrieved 2007-07-31. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Al-Qaida: Dead or captured". MSNBC. 2005-06-22. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  5. ^ a b U.S.Department of State Terrorist Exclusion List"(Retrieved on July 29, 2014).
  6. ^ "China issues white paper on history, development of Xinjiang (Part One)". Xinhua. 2003-05-26. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  7. ^ a b c Lüthi, Lorenz M. (2008). The Sino-Soviet split: Cold War in the communist world. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-13590-8. 
  8. ^ "Regions and territories: Xinjiang". Country Profiles (BBC News). 2009-07-15. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  9. ^ Marketos, Thrassy N. (2009). China's Energy Geopolitics: The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and Central Asia. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-45690-6. 
  10. ^ Piracha, Shaukat (2004-01-17). "China asks Pakistan to investigate Xinjiang terrorists list". Daily Times (Pakistan). Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  11. ^ a b c "China: The Evolution of ETIM". Stratfor. 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  12. ^ Goodenough, Patrick (2009-08-26). "Preparing to Mark 60 Years of Communist Rule, China Worries About Terrorism". Cybercast News Service. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  13. ^ Guang, Pan (May 2006). "East Turkestan Terrorism and the Terrorist Arc: china's Post-9/11 Anti-Terror Strategy". China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly 4 (2). ISSN 1653-4212. 
  14. ^ http://waziristanhills.com/Taliban/MilitantOrganizations/EastTurkistanIslamicMovementETIM/tabid/141/language/en-GB/Default.aspx
  15. ^ "Pakistani agents 'funding and training Afghan Taliban'". BBC News. 2010-06-13. 
  16. ^ "Hu Jintao urges Zardari to crush ETIM extremists". The Nation (Pakistan). Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  17. ^ Bashir, Shaykh (2008-07-01). "Why Are We Fighting China?". NEFA Foundation. Retrieved 2010-08-07. "...We are fighting China... China is an enemy who has invaded Muslim countries and occupies Muslim East Turkestan. There is no greater obligation, aside from belief in Allah, than expelling the enemies of Muslims from our countries.... We are fighting China to make them testify that 'there is no God but Allah, Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah' and make them convert to Islam...." 
  18. ^ a b "Chinese Islamists threaten Olympics: US group". Agence France-Presse. 2008-08-07. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  19. ^ "Xinjiang riot hits regional anti-terror nerve". China Daily. Xinhua. 2009-07-18. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  20. ^ "'Eastern Turkistan' terrorists identified". China Daily. Xinhua. 2008-10-21. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  21. ^ "Xinjiang fighter 'killed by drone'". Al Jazeera. 2010-03-02. Retrieved 2012-08-26. "The leader of a Chinese separatist movement, believed to have links with al-Qaeda, has been killed in a US missile strike, Pakistani and Taliban officials have said." 
  22. ^ Walsh, Declan; Schmitt, Eric (2012-08-24). "Militant Leader Believed Dead in Pakistan Drone Strike". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-26. "Among the 18 people reported to have been killed was Emeti Yakuf, a senior leader of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a group from western China whose members are Chinese Uighur Muslim militants." 
  23. ^ a b "Badruddin Haqqani: 2IC of Haqani Network allegedly killed in NATO attack". FATA Research Center. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  24. ^ Fletcher, Holly; Bajoria, Jayshree (2008-07-31). "The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM)". Backgrounder. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  25. ^ a b Pike, John. "Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement / Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party (ETIP)". GlobalSecurity.org. 
  26. ^ de Vogue, Ariane; Powell, Dennis; Ryan, Jason (2009-04-24). "Guantanamo Uyghur Detainees: Coming to America?". ABC News. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  27. ^ "Bermuda takes Guantanamo Uyghurs". BBC News. 2009-06-11. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  28. ^ a b Wong, Edward (2010-07-09). "Chinese Separatists Tied to Norway Bomb Plot". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  29. ^ "Uyghurs Convicted in East Turkestan Islamic Movement Plot in Dubai". Terrorism Monitor. Jamestown Foundation. 2010-06-22. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  30. ^ "Islamist group claims responsibility for attack on China's Tiananmen Square". Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  31. ^ Clabaugh, Rich (2009-04-24). "Freed from Guantánamo, a Uighur clings to asylum dreams in Sweden". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  32. ^ "» World Uyghur Congress". Uyghurcongress.org. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  33. ^ a b c "AFP: US lawmakers seek review of Uighur 'terror' label". Agence France Presse. 2009-06-16. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  34. ^ "China: ETIM's Direct Threat to the Olympics". Stratfor. 2008-07-25. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  35. ^ Reed, J. Todd; Diana Raschke (2010). The ETIM: China's Islamic Militants and the Global Terrorist Threat. ABC-CLIO. pp. 14–16, 46–47. 
  36. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5223458.stm
  37. ^ United Nations Web Services Section. "The Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee". Un.org. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  38. ^ Cody, Edward (2006-05-10). "China Demands That Albania Return Ex-U.S. Detainees". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  39. ^ Does not include Hong Kong SAR or Macau
  40. ^ "Beijing wants Chinese Gitmo detainees". China Daily. 2010-08-07. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Reed, J. Todd; Raschke, Diana (2010). The ETIM: China's Islamic Militants and the Global Terrorist Threat. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger. ISBN 978-0-313-36540-9