East Turkestan Islamic Movement
|Turkestan Islamic Party|
Turkistan Islamic Party
|Major actions||1997 — present|
|Leader(s)||Hasan Mahsum †
Abdul Haq †
Abdul Shakoor al-Turkistani †
|Motives||An Islamic state in Xinjiang|
|Active region(s)||China (Xinjiang)
Pakistan (North Waziristan)
|Status||No longer designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US. Was proscribed by the United Nations and five other governments (see below)|
|Size||about 1000 operatives|
The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) (also known as the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), Turkistan Islamic Movement (TIM), and other names[a]; is an Islamic terrorist and separatist organization founded by Uyghur militants in western China. Its stated goals are the independence of East Turkestan from China. According to the Chinese government, it is a violent separatist movement and is often responsible for terrorist attacks in Xinjiang. For instance, in 2005,NBC News said that between 1990 to 2001 ETIM had reportedly committed over 200 acts of terrorism, resulting in at least 162 deaths and over 440 injuries.After the 9/11 attacks, ETIM was placed on the United States‘ Terrorist Exclusion List, where it remains to this day, despite some claims to the contrary reported variously across the Internet.
The area known as East Turkestan had been a protectorate of China as early as 60 BC, though there are numerous periods of independence from China. In the 18th century the Qing Dynasty reorganized the territory as a province, Xinjiang. Yet, Russian influence was strong. Russian Orthodox Old Believers emigrated from Russia to Xinjiang in the early 19th century, and theRussian Civil War accelerated this immigration by adding white émigrés. During China’s warlord era in the 1910s-1920s, the Soviet Union propped up the separatistSecond East Turkestan Republic, and only accepted Chinese rule when the Chinese communists established the People’s Republic of China after the Chinese Civil War.Nevertheless, the Soviet Union distributed Soviet passports among the Central Asian ethnics in Xinjiang to facilitate emigration to Kazakh SSR. After the Sino-Soviet split, the Soviet Union amassed troops on the Russian border with Xinjiang, and bolstered “East Turkestan” separatist movements, which received moral and material support from other regional militant groups. China accused the Soviets of engineering riots, and improved the military infrastructure there to combat it.
The East Turkestan Islamic Movement was founded in 1993 by two natives of Hotan, but it failed to last to year’s end. Hasan Mahsum and Abudukadir Yapuquan reorganized the movement in 1997, in the same form that it exists today. In 1998 Mahsum moved ETIM’s headquarters to Kabul, taking shelter under Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, ETIM leaders met with Osama bin Ladin and other leaders of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to coordinate actions. There, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement dropped the “East” from its name as it increased its domain. The group’s infrastructure was crippled after the United States invaded Afghanistan and bombed Al Qaeda bases in the mountainous regions along theborder with Pakistan, during which the leader of ETIM, Hasan Mahsum, was killed.
However, ETIM resurged after the Iraq War inflamed mujaheddin sentiment. It expanded its portfolio to attacks on United States interests, such as the U.S. embassy in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan). The United States Department of State responded by listing it as a terrorist organization. This greatly weakened ETIM, as it lost sympathy from many Western organizations who would otherwise support its struggle against China. Nonetheless, ETIM circulated a video in 2006 calling for a renewed jihad, and took advantage of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing to gain publicity for its attacks. The ETIM is said to be allied with the Taliban, who have received funding from rogue elements in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), leading Pakistan being seriously urged by China to take action against militants.
The NEFA Foundation, an American terrorist analyst foundation, translated and released a jihad article from ETIM, whose membership it said consisted primarily of “Uyghur Muslims from Western China.” The East Turkestan Islamic Movement’s primary goal is the independence of East Turkestan. ETIM continues this theme of contrasting “Muslims” and “Chinese”, in a six minute video in 2008, where “Commander Seyfullah” warns Muslims not to bring their children to the 2008 Summer Olympics, and also saying “do not stay on the same bus, on the same train, on the same plane, in the same buildings, or any place the Chinese are”.
Terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna has said that ETIM is closely associated with the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), and that there are “many sympathizers and supporters” of ETIM in the WUC. China has accused the WUC of orchestrating the 2009 ethnic violence in Urumqi; similarly, Gunaratna said that one of ETIM’s aims is to “fuel hatred” and violence between the Hanand the Uyghur ethnic groups, adding that it represented a threat to China and the Central Asia region as a whole.
|Memetiming Memeti||Abdul Haq||Leading the organization, inciting ethnic tensions in 2006 and 2007, buying explosives, organizing terrorist attacks against the 2008 Summer Olympics||Killed in North Waziristandrone attack|
|Aibu Abudureheman, Saifula, Abdul Jabar||Threatening to use biological and chemical weapons against servicepeople and Western politicians for the 2008 Olympics, disseminating manuals on explosives and poisons||Killed in North Waziristandrone attack|
(Memet Tursun Imin)
|Abuduaini||Raised funds for ETIM, tested bombs in the run-up to the Olympics||Since 2008,Western Asia|
(Memet Tursun Abduxaliq)
|Metusun Abuduhalike, Ansarui, Naijimuding||Attacked government organizations, money laundering for ETIM operations, buying vehicles and renting houses for attacks||Unknown|
|Saiyide||Recruiting for ETIM in the Middle East, blew up a Chinese supermarket||Unknown|
|Assisted Xiamisidingaihemaiti Abudumijiti in the supermarket attack||Unknown|
|Abudujilili Aimaiti, Abudula, Punjab||Sneaked into China illegally to gather information on Chinese neighborhoods, a failed suicide attack against oil refinery||Killed in North Waziristandrone attack|
|Mubaixier, Nurula||Organizing a terror team for the 2008 Olympics, buying raw materials for them and requesting chemical formulas for explosives||Killed in North Waziristandrone attack|
Guantanamo Bay detainees
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
The United States captured 22 Uyghur militants from combat zones in Afghanistan in 2006 on information that they were linked to Al-Qaeda. They were imprisoned without trial for five to seven years, where they testified that they were trained by ETIM leader Abdul Haq, at an ETIM training camp. After being reclassified as No Longer Enemy Combatant, a panel of judges ordered them released into the United States. Despite the alarm of politicians that the release of terrorist camp-trained Uyghurs into the United States was unsafe and illegal, they could not be released back to China because of its human rights record. Some of the Uyghurs have been transferred to Palau, and some to Bermuda despite objections by the United Kingdom, but the United States is having difficulties finding governments who will accept the rest.
In 2007, ETIM militants in cars shot Chinese nationals in Pakistani Balochistan and sent a videotape of the attack to Beijing, in retaliation for an execution of an ETIM official earlier that July. ETIM also took credit for a spate of attacks before the 2008 Summer Olympics, including a series of bus bombings in Kunming, an attempted plane hijacking in Urumqi, and an attack on paramilitary troops in Kashgar that killed 17 officers. On June 29, 2010, a court in Dubai convicted two members of an ETIM cell of plotting to bomb a government-owned shopping mall that sold Chinese goods. This was the ETIM plot outside of China or Central Asia. The key plotter was recruited during Hajj and was flown to Waziristan to train. In July 2010, officials in Norway interrupted a terrorist bomb plot, another instance of ETIM branching out of its original regions and cooperating with international groups. New York Times correspondent Edward Wong says that ETIM “give[s] them a raison d’être at a time when the Chinese government has… defused any chance of a widespread insurgency… in Xinjiang.”
In October 2013, a suicide attack in Tiananmen Square caused 5 deaths and 38 injuries. Chinese police described it as the first terrorist attack in Beijing’s recent history. Turkistan Islamic Party later claimed responsibility for the attack.
Critics say that the threats ETIM itself makes are exaggerated, and that ETIM embellishes its own image and commitspsychological warfare against China for its false threats, including forcing it to increase security. Dru C. Gladney, an authority on Uyghurs, said that there was “a credibility gap” about the group since the majority of information on ETIM “was traced back to Chinese sources”, and that that some believe ETIM to be part of a US-China quid pro quo, where China supported the US-led War on Terror, and “support of the US for the condemnation of ETIM was connected to that support.” The Uyghur American Association has publicly doubted the ETIM’s existence.
On June 16, 2009, Representative Bill Delahunt convened hearings to examine how organizations were added to the US blacklist in general, and how the ETIM was added in particular. Uyghur expert Sean Roberts testified that the ETIM was new to him, that it wasn’t until it was blacklisted that he heard of the group, and noted that “it is perfectly reasonable to assume that the organization no longer exists at all.” The Congressional Research Service reported that the first published mention of the group was in the year 2000, but that China attributed attacks to it that had occurred up to a decade earlier.
Stratfor has noted repeated unexplained attacks on Chinese buses in 2008 have followed a history of ETIM targeting Chinese infrastructure, and noted the group’s splintering and subsequent reorganization following the death of Mahsum.
Intelligence analysts J. Todd Reed and Diana Raschke acknowledge that reporting in China presents obstacles not found in countries where information is not so tightly controlled. However, they found that ETIM’s existence and activities could be confirmed independently of Chinese government sources, using information gleaned from ETIM’s now-defunct website, reports from human rights groups and academics, and testimony from the Uyghur detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Reed & Raschke also question the information put out by Uyghur expatriates that deny ETIM’s existence or impact, as the Uyghurs who leave Xinjiang are those who object most to government policy, are unable to provide first-hand analysis, and have an incentive to exaggerate repression and downplay militancy. They say that ETIM was “obscure but not unknown” before theSeptember 11 attacks, citing “Western, Russian, and Chinese media sources” that have “documented the ETIM’s existence for nearly 20 years”.
Designation as terrorist organization
Countries and organizations below have officially listed the Turkestan Islamic Movement as a terrorist organization.
The group was also classified as ‘terrorist’ by the following: