The activity of Osama bin Laden’s organization had a global scale. Bin Laden funded guerrillas not only in Chechnya or in the Philippines, but even in China. This was said to the ITAR-TASS news agency by China’s ambassador to Russia. The ambassador said that China had a lot of evidence to prove that Bin Laden was backing the gunmen of “Eastern Turkestan” to carry out terrorist operations in China and beyond its borders.
The Uigurs are the Turkic nation living on the territory of China in the region that is historically called Eastern Turkestan. Eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang) borders on the republics of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Pursuant to the latest official information that China has at its disposal, the population of the region makes up some 16 million people: 7.2 million Uigurs and 6.4 million Chinese. The region is also populated by the Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Mongol, Tajik, and other nations.
The largest legal organization of the Chinese Muslims is the Islamic Association of China, which was founded in 1953 and is subordinated to China's Bureau for the religious affairs. There are also up to 27 national groups operating in China. They are not controlled by the government. The largest one of them is the United National Revolutionary Front of Eastern Turkestan. The founder of this organization (it was established in 1984) set the objective to the members of the group: the establishment of an independent Uigur state. The Front of Eastern Turkestan specializes in explosions, murdering soldiers and policemen, robbing banks, and wire and wireless communication diversions. The organization that is called the Sparks of the Homeland is rather active too. The profile of this organization is assassinations and weapon stealing.
Eastern Turkestan is rich with the natural resources, making up 80% of China’s reserves. It ha concentrations huge crude deposits, which are comparable to deposits of Saudi Arabia. However, it is difficult to develop those deposits, since they are situated far from China’s developed areas.
The population of the Xinjiang region is culturally close to the Turkic nations of Central Asia: they have one language, one faith, so the Uirug national movements activated their work when perestroika began in the USSR. The Chinese authorities tried to put an end to them, but it was not possible to avoid the bloodshed.
An armed mutiny took place not far from the town of Kashgar. Unofficial information said that the collision began after the authorities tried to deprive the faithful from their access to the mosque. The demonstrators went out in the streets, disarmed the policemen, and announced a Jihad.
The rebellion was put down. China’s security services carried out mass searches and arrests, putting some six-thousand people behind bars. It was also reported that the leaders of the mutiny had been shot. Some participants of the rebellion used fake documents, crossed the borders, and disappeared in the Soviet republics of Central Asia.
In spite of their defeat, the local separatists were still maintaining the tense situation in Beijing. They set up information centers in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Western Europe to coordinate their actions. Those centers received instructions from Pakistan. The Uigur separatists were very active during the first half of the 1990s: they started using terrorist methods. For example, on September 27, 1992. a group of armed youth dismantled the railway in the area of the city of Kumula. The railway connected the Xinjiang autonomous region with China. The Uigur terrorists organized an explosion that took place on April 22, 1993 at the army base near the town of Turfan, and another bomb blew up on June 17 near a hotel in Kashgar, killing three people. However, the Chinese government managed to reduce the terrorist activity.
A new outbreak of violence took place in 1997. Hundreds of people died as a result of the acts of terrorism – both civil and military men. The Uigurs were under repression again. The information centers in Russia and Kazakhstan were closed due to the pressure from Beijing. The situation is still tense. The local population is not glad about the Beijing’s policy of resettling ethnic Chinese to Xinjiang.
It seems that China is determined to bid farewell to its terrorists, using the toughest measures ever. Beijing hopes that the information about Osama bin Laden’s involvement in funding the Uigur terrorist organizations will give the requisite carte-blanche on the part of the world community, from the USA first and foremost.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov