A video has been posted on the Internet from the Turkistan Islamic Party threatening the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
As reported by G2 in early March, Islamist elements affiliated with al-Qaida have had this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing in the crosshairs for some time.
Sayfallah states that his group is warning China one more time, threatening to attack key points related to the Olympic Games. He explicitly states that the group plans to attack Chinese cities using previously unused methods.
Sayfallah issued a stern warning:
“This is our last warning to China and the rest of the world. The viewers and athletes, especially those who are Muslim, who plan to go to the Olympics should change their plans and not go to China. The Turkistan Islamic Party plans military attacks on people, offices, arenas, and other activities that are connected to the Chinese Olympic Games.”
He claims the group has undergone special training and already has begun its operations against China, including bomb attacks on two buses in Shanghai in May and three buses last week in Yunnan. He also took credit for an attack on police forces in Wenzhou with an explosives-laden tractor and the attack with explosives on a plastics factory.
Chinese authorities have recognized for some time the threat from the organization, and have prepared for terror attacks against the Games.
Last week, an anti-terrorism manual was released to the public. People were urged to remain calm in the event of any attack and to notify authorities by text message. The Xinhua news agency reported an excerpt from the manual advised people that they might “also have to hide your mobile phones if kidnapped by terrorists,”
Xinhua reported that the manual covers a wide range of possible attacks, including explosions, shootings, hijackings and even chemical or nuclear attacks.
In his new message, Sayfallah promised to use “methods that have not previously been used.”
It is unknown if the group has chemical, radiological, biological, or nuclear capabilities but given its affiliation with al-Qaida, the possibility must be considered.
In March of this year, at least one plot targeting the games was busted up by Chinese security forces in a raid in the Turkistan region.
Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is the Chinese term for Chinese Turkistan, which has been battling an al-Qaida-linked jihadist group called the East Turkistan Islamic Movement. ETIM is recognized by the U.S., China, Kazakhstan, and the United Nations as a terror group.
The U.S. State Department stated in its 2005 annual report on terrorism that ETIM was linked to al-Qaida, and that al-Qaida provided the group with training and funding. In 2002, the Chinese government claimed that the group’s founder, Hasan Mahsum, met with Osama Bin Laden and received funds from the terror leaders. The Chinese also claimed that Bin Laden exported dozens of terrorists to China to assist ETIM efforts. (Mahsum was killed in 2003 by Pakistani forces.)
Further indications of the jihadist link are found in the evidence recovered by police when the group planning the Beijing attack was raided. “Extremist religious ideological materials” were located along with guns, homemade bombs, and training material.
Turkistan has been referenced by al-Qaida leaders in numerous messages, most recently in a message from al-Qaida second-in-command Ayman al Zawahiri in part two of his “Town Hall” question-and-answer session, released in April of this year:
Concerning the United Nations, the program demanded reforming the United Nations so that it will be based on the principles of sound international democracy, which the program calls for, without presenting the theories on the rule of the strong. This means that the program agrees that the U.N. resolutions are adopted by the majority of members. This is an acceptance of two serious things. The first is the acceptance of non-sharia rules, and the second is acceptance of resolutions that the U.N. members agreed on by a majority, such as the decision to partition Palestine in 1947 and the decision to accept Israel’s membership in the United Nations, thus forcing all U.N. members, according to the U.N. Charter, to respect its sovereignty and the territorial integrity of its territory. This contradicts with what the program mentioned concerning the duty of liberating the entire Palestinian territory.
Indeed, this is not confined to Palestine but it transcends it to recognizing all the U.N. member states that have transgressed on the territories of Muslims; that is, recognizing Russia’s sovereignty over the Muslim Caucasus, the sovereignty of the Philippines on its Muslim south, the sovereignty of India over Kashmir until the referendum takes place, which the international powers will not allow, the sovereignty of China on eastern Turkistan, and the sovereignty of Spain over Ceuta and Milella, and indeed on the entire Andalusia, and so on.
The Turkistan front was also reference by Zawahiri in his message of March 11, 2007:
“The first question is: Who gave the killers the right to appoint judges to interfere in the affairs of Muslims? By what right the Security Council interferes in the affairs of Muslims and forms courts, which acquit this and convict that, while the hands of their criminals are stained with Muslims’ blood in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Algeria, Chechnya, and East Turkestan? How does America refer the Darfur case to an international court which it does not recognize and refuses to be subject to it? What injustice is governing this world.
“The second question is: If you want to try those who term criminals in Darfur, who will try the criminals in Bosnia, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Chechnya, Kashmir, Indonesia, Philippines, and East Turkistan? Who will try Bush, Blair, Putin, and Sharon? Who will try the villains who are shedding our blood and violating our sanctities on a daily basis, which is many times more than what was committed in Darfur? Who will try Mubarak, Al Sa’ud, Bouteflika, Zine El Abidine, and Bin-al-Husayn, and Musharraf?”
In November 2006, a video was released by Al Fajr highlighting activities of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement. A number of other videos from the group are available for viewing on YouTube.
The link between the “Global Jihad” and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement is indisputable, and the solidarity between that group and al-Qaida appears to continue to be strong.
It is very likely that this plot to attack the Beijing Olympics was not simply an isolated, stand-alone attack planned by a rogue group; instead, it is very likely that this was planned to be another mass casualty terror attack planned and financed by al-Qaida using one of its favorite and most successful weapons – commercial airliners.
G2B contributor Laura Mansfield is an author and counter-terrorism analyst