Pakistan-based jihadist group says it backs China attacks


A militant organisation believed to be based in Pakistan has backed recent fatal attacks in China and predicted more violence, a video released by a US-based terror monitoring group shows.
The video, purportedly made by the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) and showing the organisation’s leader Abdul Shakoor Damla, was posted to jihadist forums on Tuesday, according to the Washington-based SITE Intelligence Group.
In the video, Damla, his face obscured, claims attacks in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang over the summer were revenge against the Chinese government for “maiming the identity of the Muslims”.
Early in July, more than 20 people were killed in a clash between Uighurs and police in Xinjiang’s Hotan city – violence state media attributed to “terrorists”.
Later in the month, two violent attacks in Kashgar city left 21 people dead, including eight suspects allegedly involved in the incidents. Authorities blamed one of the attacks on “terrorists” trained in Pakistan.
They were the latest in several outbreaks of ethnic violence in Xinjiang in recent years, as the mainly Muslim Uighur minority bridles under what it regards as oppression by the government.
Rohan Gunaratna, head of the Singapore-based International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, told AFP that TIP is the parent of the East Turkistan Independence Movement (ETIM), a group China and the United States have placed on terror lists. “The Muslims will… fight against the Chinese occupation until they meet Allah,” Damla said, according to an English-language transcript of the video. Beijing has blamed much of the unrest in Xinjiang on the “three forces” of extremism, separatism and terrorism.
But some experts doubt that terrorist cells operate in Xinjiang, where Uighurs are Sunni and practice a moderate form of Islam. They say the government has produced little evidence of an organised terrorist threat in Xinjiang, adding the violence stems more from long-standing local resentment. According to the SITE translation, the video posted online does not include an explicit claim of responsibility for the attacks by TIP.
However Gunaratna said the video “very clearly demonstrates the recent attacks in Xinjiang were by the TIP”.