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Chinese Islamists threaten Olympics

Latest update : 2008-08-08

The Turkestan Islamic Party, an ethnic Uighur and Muslim organisation seeking to autonomise China's Xinjiang province, has issued a six-minute video threatening "fire targeted at China."

A Muslim separatist group in China has threatened to attack planes and ground transport at the Beijing Olympics, a US intelligence monitoring group said Thursday.
   
The threat, accompanied by a call for Muslims to keep their children away from the Olympics, was issued in a nearly six-minute video warning of "fire targeted at China."
   
The video depicts flames consuming a Beijing Olympics logo and an explosion over a venue for the competition, and features a masked, turbaned speaker clutching what appears to be an assault rifle.
   
Washington-based IntelCenter released a copy of the recording, attributed to the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), an ethnic Uighur and Muslim organization seeking to create an independent state out of China's heavily Muslim Xinjiang province.
   
According to IntelCenter's translation, a TIP activist named Abdullah Mansour warns of attacks on public transport at the Olympics.
   
He urges Muslims to keep away for their safety. "Please do not be around Chinese people while in the same building, in the same shop, in the same bus or same train. Please do not fly with Chinese people in the same airplane."
   
Mansour says his underground organization has "declared war against China. We oppose China's occupation of our homeland of East Turkestan..., because this system is based on atheism."
   
IntelCenter, a company providing intelligence analysis, said previous attacks carried out by the TIP meant the Olympics threat was "credible and should be taken seriously."
   
A "biological threat cannot be completely discounted, however the much more likely type of attack would be one utilizing explosive devices," the center said.
   
IntelCenter said in July that TIP had taken credit in another video statement for a deadly bus bombing in Shanghai in May and warned of new attacks in China during the Olympics.
   
In that recording, Commander Seyfullah of TIP claimed credit for several attacks, including the May 5 Shanghai bus bombing which killed three; another Shanghai attack; an attack on police in Wenzhou on July 17 using an explosives-laden tractor; a bombing of a Guangzhou plastic factory on July 17; and bombings of three buses in Yunnan province on July 21.
   
Three people were killed as a result of the explosion on the crowded bus in Shanghai on May 5, police and witnesses said.
   
The incident during the morning traffic rush hour in northwest Shanghai also injured 12 people.
   
At the time, authorities attributed the blast to flammable materials carried by a passenger.
   
But Seyfullah said the blast was the work of his group, and warned of more explosions to come.
   
According to intelligence analysts Stratfor, the Turkestan Islamic Party is another name used by the Islamic Party of East Turkestan (ETIM), an ethnic Uighur and Muslim separatist group seeking to create an independent state out of China's westernmost, heavily Muslim Xinjiang province.
   
The United States, China and other countries have designated ETIM a terrorist group.
   
Beijing is wary of ethnic Uighur Muslims living in Xinjiang, who maintain an ethnic identity distinct from the Chinese and have struggled to re-establish the independent state of East Turkestan since their homeland became part of China in 1955.
   
Rights bodies say the Chinese government is cracking down on them, under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

Date created : 2008-08-08

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