For about six months since China underwent the first car explosion in its stories, which occurred on Tiananmen Square in Beijing 31 October 2013, China recorded a number of other terrorist attacks on its territory. Such attacks included: a massacre using knives that occurred at the station in Kunming, which resulted in the death of a 29 man, a double act of terrorism at the station in the Uygur capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of Urumqi, and the massacre using knives at the station in Guangzhou, as a result which wounded six people. The car bombings in Urumqi on May 22 clarified and indicates that the recent attacks in China are part of a coordinated militant campaign against China that was probably organized outside of China and used jihadist tactics that were used in neighboring Afghanistan and Pakistan.
According to one parallel between these recent incidents, they were executed by the Uighurs, who are members of the Muslim ethnic group Xinjiang. Xi Jinping and his counter-terrorism strategy face the challenge of identifying foreign and domestic forces behind these attacks - and some 15 other massive attacks using knives and automobile incidents in Xinjiang from the year 2011 - and developing a development program to counter this kind of violence . The internal network of such belligerent cells, in all likelihood, is already in place and is supposedly increasing, which, for its part, will provide more opportunities for the militants of the Islamic Party of Turkestan (IPT) and its ally Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) to expand its jihad across the border from Afghanistan and Pakistan to China.
This material analyzes the political nature of the recent terrorist attacks in China, with a focus on operational links between the attackers and international jihadist groups such as IPT and the IMU.
Role of the IPT representative
According to rough estimates, IPT has from 300 to 500 fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also has its networks in Turkey and, possibly, in Central Asia. With such a number of fighters, IPT is limited in its ability to start a rebellion in China, in which more than one billion people live. The hitting of a car during the celebration of Ramadan, which took place in Kashgar in July 2011, resulting in the death of pedestrians 12, was the only IPT attack that occurred in China, as indicated by the evidence. IPT also took responsibility for several car bombings near Xinjiang’s border with Pakistan in 2012, which were likely carried out by militants of the organization in Xinjiang.
The main additional characteristic that adds to the seriousness of IPT in Xinjiang is that the organization teaches Uygurs who travel abroad or, in all likelihood, and even more important, leads the secret distribution of ideological and training jihadist materials in Xinjiang through various Uyghur, Pakistani or Central Asian traders.
On the international front, the IPT has become an influential patron and “representative” of the Uyghur militants in China and delivers laudable speeches in almost all cases of clashes between Uygurs and Chinese police or Hans. IPT leader Abdullah Mansour is considered a relative newcomer among the more experienced international jihadists, but he was able to raise the prestige of the IPT among al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups. From 2008 to 2013 Mansur was the editor of IPT publications in the Islamic Turkestan magazine, which is published about quarterly, where Uigurs are exposed to China, and Xinjiang is compared to other regions of the world where jihadists fight, such as Palestine, Kashmir and later Syria. Mansur’s becoming the leader of IPT, which happened last year, was most likely due to his knowledge of the media and marketing skills, which are reflected in the continuation of the complex activities of IPT in jihadist forums.
Al-Qaeda leaders like Ayman al-Zawahiri now usually refer to East Turkestan among other jihad battlefields, while jihadists in Syria proudly show the Uigurs and the Han people who came to Islam and are now among their fighters. Meanwhile, the IPT praises “jihadists” in Syria and responds directly to Chinese accusations that the IPT sends fighters to Syria with the help of Uighur human rights organizations in Turkey. For example, in the 12 edition of Islamic Turkestan, the IPT writes: “If China has the right to support Bashar al-Assad in Syria, then we have every right to support our proud Syrian Muslims.”
IMU: “Follow the mentor, in the person of Pakistan”
While the IPT is still a relative newcomer to the jihad scene, announcing its formation around 2008, despite the presence of Uighur warriors in Afghanistan before 2001, the organization benefited from the support of other well-known jihadi leaders. In particular, the emergence of the Mufti of the IMU, Abu Zara Al-Burmi, as a prominent anti-Chinese jihadist leader in Pakistan, has caused a greater attention to Xinjiang from jihadists. Al-Burmi began to gain fame and was able to draw the attention of jihadist media after 2011, a few years after the riots in Xinjiang that occurred in July 2009, in Urumqi. The Uigurs call Xinjiang "Eastern Turkestan" and want its independence from China. While Al-Qaida affiliates and leaders such as Abu Yayya Al-Libi demanded revenge on China and called for attacks on Chinese citizens abroad, other Al Qaeda leaders made rare statements on Xinjiang.
However, unlike other Al-Qaida leaders, Al-Burmi regularly publishes anti-Chinese sermons in Pakistan and, possibly because of his Burmese origin (he is an Rohini ethnic), seems to hold a personal vendetta against China. In a sermon called “The Lost Country,” he said that “the Mujahideen should know that the Ummah’s incoming enemy is China, which day after day develops its weaponto fight the Muslims ”and accused“ Burma, China and Germany and the interests of the United Nations in supporting this massacre and massacres of [Rohini] in Arakan ”.
In September, 2013, in a sermon that sounded in Ladha, South Vasaristan, Al-Burmi, said that Muslims must kidnap and kill Chinese, as well as attack Chinese companies that, according to Abu Zar, "conquered" Pakistan like a British company the conquest of East India (including his native Burma Abu Zher) in India in the 1800-s. He blamed the Pakistanis for their “prayer for friendship between China and Pakistan,” including the purchase of “wrong” food and goods from China, comparing all this with words, it’s like “drinking milk from the Chinese government” and selling the port of Gwadar to China in Karachi.
Al-Burmi convinces his followers to pay special attention to the “new superpower” and “the next enemy number one” to China, now that the Taliban “could discourage” the United States. This suggests that Al-Burmi is considering the role of the IMU in attacking China or coordinating IPT training with the aim of attacking China after the withdrawal of most US forces from Afghanistan in 2014. In his sermon in Ladha, Al-Burmi continued to compare the United States and China: “We should be aware of the fact that, while the United States is the father of the Pakistani system and the government, China is the mother of the Pakistani government. The Pakistani government is drinking the milk of the Chinese government. ”
He also claims that “the Pakistani president visits China every four months, walked and bowed on his knees and fell in front of those atheists who do not believe in God, and in return he returns with the help received. We should all be aware of the fact that there is no border between Pakistan and China, the border that runs along Gilgit-Baltistan is the actual border with East Turkestan. ”
Rear: politicizing attacks
While IPT and the IMU may be active in promoting jihad from abroad, a key measure of their influence or other jihadist groups that operate in China is the political nature and style of the attacks taking place in China. The section below contains an overview of the most recent terrorist attacks prior to the explosion of the car, which occurred on 22 in May (many details remained unclear at the time of the publication of this article).
The double terrorist attack at the railway station in Urumqi occurred on the last day of President Xi’s three-day visit to Xinjiang, where his attention was paid to countering terrorism. However, the attack also occurred on the eve of the opening of intercity railway lines connecting Urumqi with Kuytun, Shikhezi and Karamaei, which will be the key routes for the delivery of oil from Xinjiang to other regions of China. The attackers did not “succeed in their cause”, as a result of which they killed only one person other than themselves, but the attention of the media, which was attached to terrorist attacks, overshadowed X's visit and became a message that Uighur insurgents could attack anywhere and at any time .
In addition, these terrorist attacks, which were the first attacks of their kind in China, demonstrated innovation in Uighur militancy. While it was not possible to prove any connection with the IPT, China claims that leaders trained in Pakistan most likely indicate a suspected connection with the IPT. The attacks were also similar to the terrorist attacks that the IPT and the IMU use against the forces of the United States, Pakistan and NATO in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The execution of two Han policemen and the stabbing of a third policeman in Yecheng (Kargılik), 31, which is the closest city of Xinjiang to Pakistan, suggests that, in all likelihood, the militants tried to launch more attacks during Xi’s visit.
In one of the most famous parts of the Damla video, you can see how militants in a mountainous region, reminiscent of the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan, are taught to make a bomb hidden in a briefcase. IPT has published a series of 13 videos in Uyghur with Chinese and Uygur captions that teach viewers how to make homemade explosives. If IPT can encourage and train homegrown single wolves or independent cells that operate in Xinjiang to attack, distributing similar video materials in Xinjiang, it will allow IPT to encourage attacks, avoiding the risk associated with sending their fighters to Xinjiang.
A man who rammed a car in which his wife and mother were in the passenger seats, the most symbolic place in China, located near the portrait of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square, participated in the blast of an automobile in Tiananmen Square in October 2013. The reason for the man was probably the revenge for the demolition by the Chinese government without the official permission of the additional part of the mosque, for which he paid to be erected in the Kyzylsu autonomous prefecture of Kyrgyzstan, located in Xinjiang. The attack in Urumqi and Tiananmen played good propaganda for IPT. Islom Avazi published a video on jihadist websites in which IPT leader Abdullah Mansour praises the “Jihadist operation in the Forbidden City” and claims that this was the result of “awakening after 60 years of oppression”.
Kunming and Guangzhou
The attacks at Kunming and Guangzhou stations that occurred in March and May 2014 differed from the attacks that occurred at Urumqi station and Tiananmen Square, since neither the timing of the attack nor the location were particularly symbolic. However, both attacks undoubtedly caused the death of people, because they occurred in busy public places. The participation of two women in the attack in Kunming, as well as the selection of the station, may have been made at the suggestion of the militants of the Caucasus Emirate, the organization of the late leader Doku Umarov, which was praised by May 1 in the IPT video. Vilayat Dagestan, which took responsibility for the attacks on the station in Volgograd and the trolley bus explosion in Pyatigorsk near Sochi on the eve of the Olympic Games in Russia in February 2014, said that these attacks were carried out "by order of Umarov."
The recent attacks in Beijing, Kunming, Urumqi and Guangzhou are a victory for IPT and its ally, the IMU. The attacks promote IPT and the IMU to make China the next frontier for jihadists, because the US is leaving Afghanistan. Meanwhile, from Syria and Turkey to the Gulf, there is an increased opportunity for IPT and its supporters to create a network with Uighurs in Xinjiang who are offended by the Chinese government. For example, it is likely that the IMU and the IPT may unite and recruit people from underground Islamist organizations that operate in Xinjiang, such as Tablighi Jamaat and Hijra Jihad, inspired by the Salafi ideals.
In addition, it is likely that Uygur militancy will resemble Al-Qaida’s militant actions in other countries of the world, since knowledge transfer takes place with the training of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan or Syria, on simple jihadist online sites or videos. IPT can also follow the strategy of the Caucasus Emirate towards ethnic Russians, attacking the Han Chinese in Xinjiang with such a frequency that it will force them to leave the region and become a derivative of strong hostility between the Han Chinese and the Uighurs, that the Han Chinese will not want to live, work and feel safe in Xinjiang.