Uyghur Jihad For Freedom Or China’s 9/11?

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3/8/2014 update: The latest possible attack on Chinese is the missing Malaysia Airlines 777, which evidently”vanished” but more likely blew up or flew into the water like the Egyptian flight where wreckage was spotted  just south of Vietnam. Investigation is now centering on two who were apparently using Austrian and Italian passports which were both stolen from Thailand, another Asian nation with jihad problems. The BBC notes the possibility of a terrorist attack coming  just one week after the stabbing, and the list of probable suspects that hate China enough to do such a thing is pretty short.

Asians have also been victims of more than their fair share of odd  unexplainable incidents in the United States, as pregnant Min Lin was run over by an amok snowplow bobcat at a Brooklyn Asian grocery, and in a week full of mass murders in the US, Mindong Chen hacked up his host family in Brooklyn because their success made him miserable. Few people realized that the Land Rover dad  who was beaten trying to protect his wife and baby from NYC bikers was also Chinese.  Other attacks / accidents / conflicts on Asians include the South Koreans who were on a bus attacked by apparent Islamists in Egypt in February, Tomas Mondares, an 89 yr old Phillipino man run over by a parolee high on drugs, and Annie Kim Pham who was either beaten to death by women angered for her photobombing a picture, or alternately was said to be  a gang member who assaulted  suspects who maintain their innocence.  In December, unemployed IT worker Syed Muzzafar was arrested for failing to yield and running over 6 year old Sophia Liu and her mother, killing the girl. Her family is suing the Uber ridesharing app that Syed was using while he was driving. 100 years ago, it was always racist whites and imperialists going after the Chinese, but the game has changed.


On March 1st, an organized team of people in black face masks dropped a bag and each pulled out 20 inch knives, and started stabbing at a at Kunming rail station in China. At least 29 were killed, and 20 of 143 injured were in critical condition in what Chinese state media called China’s 9/11. Initially while some guessed it looked like another attack by a disgruntled doctor/government/train customer, others pointed to the string of attacks by Islamist Uighur militants who were quickly blamed after the government revealed they had found a mysterious flag. While it wasn’t the standard black spaghetti and meatball Al Qaeda flag, it was still dark with a star and crescent and arabic lettering.

Black Islamist Separatist flag seized after train station attack

Black Islamist Separatist flag seized after train station attack

This was a significant escalation as previous incidents in Xinjiang and Beijing, as this sort of obvious organized commando team raid flying the flag of a radicalized religion has only been seen in places like the 2008 Mumbai attacks  and the Kenya shopping mall attack, and even in the US most mass murder attacks are by one or two lone wolves who leave no hint of any political or religious motive. The US did not acknowledge that it was an act of terrorism until two days later on Monday [NYTimes] when prodded by a Chinese journalist what it considered terrorism since it had previously refused to call the Jeep attack by Uighurs carrying a jihad flag a terrorist act, and the US spokesman emphasized that the US had not changed its position.

It sounded like previous criticism of the Obama administration for appearing to cover up ties to terrorists in the attack on the US compound in Benghazi in which Ambassador Stevens was killed who some speculated might have been supported by the same Morsi government that was backed by Obama, and the refusal to categorize the 2009 Fort Hood attack as Islamist terrorism even after Nidal Hasan in his own defence argued he was justified in killing soldiers because he was fighting Jihad for the Taliban to protect muslim lives. The FBI also stated there was no indication that a fire set on New Years day at the San Francisco Chinese consulate was a terrorist attack, accepting the story of the Chinese arsonist who said he was driven by “voices” like a number of other no-sensible-motive attacks by amok lone wolves with no obvious political motives. Authorities  found no connection to a similar 2008 fire set while San Francisco was discussing whether China was violating human rights of Uighurs and other groups before the Olympics. Police also made no connection to a New Years eve arson attack in Seattle on a gay night club the night before which was later determined to have been  set with a can of gasoline by Musab Masmari who had expressed a dislike for LGBT lifestyles. But he might have had another motive as he was a Libyan from Benghazi, site of the gasoline arson attack which killed  the American ambassador in combined protest / terrorist attack.

The Munich based Uyghur Congress had this to say, much like liberty loving Patriot Ron Paul has blamed the United States foreign policy for giving the 9/11 terrorists no choice but to lash back at their tormentors:

It really doesn’t take much to upset the delicate harmony in which modern China exists. In such a tightly-controlled environment, taking just a few steps out of line is a challenge to authority; civil disobedience is a rebellion. In this context, last week’s massacre in Kunming was not just an act of terrorism. For China’s leaders, gathered in Beijing for the annual National Congress of the People, the violent attack represented something far more significant: a blow to the very foundations of the Communist state itself.

Compare that to what Rightscoop quoted from  Ron Paul had to say after the 9/11 attacks focusing on the “root  cause” of the attacks, American devotion to imperialism rather than liberty:

 It was this war, said to protect our oil, that brought out the worst in [Bin Laden] …The oil, in fact, belongs to the Arabs and other Muslim nations of the Persian Gulf. Our military presence in Saudi Arabia is what most Muslims believe to be a sacred violation of holy land… It is clear that protecting certain oil interests and our presence in the Persian Gulf help drive the holy warMuslims see this as an invasion and domination by a foreign enemy, which inspires radicalism.

100 years ago China, the movie Sand Pebbles portrayed China as the land of backward savages fighting to drive out the Western imperialists, and 50 years ago China supported just “wars of liberation” in Korea and Vietnam. Now the Han are the “racists whites of China” who have invaded and displaced  the victimized Uyghurs, beating their workers after false rumours of rape,  and  restricting their religion and jobs and killing those who dare to fight for their human rights. Oddly, now that parts of China outshine some of the worst neighborhoods in the West, and when they want support from the Western powers and join the War on Terror, they reply they get from the Obama administration is “What terrorists? You’re the one that’s violating their human rights!” when asked about the Uyghurs.

Uyghur Congress flag – cresent and star on blue background



Completely different flag used by Al Qaeda-aligned jihadists including the Islamic State of Iraq(2007), al‑Shabaab and other jihadists during the 2000s.

 Remember that October 28, 2013 Jeep rampage attack running over people at Tiananmen square that killed 5 and burst into flames leaving a cloud of smoke visible all over Beijing?  Police found  found gasoline, two machetes, iron rods and “a flag with extremist religious content” in the jeep, and it wasn’t Lutherans. And when they tracked down and arrested five other suspects who knew the attackers, they were ready for more action as they were found with knives and a “jihad” flag in their temporary residence. Well, the spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress was not convinced that Uyghurs were really involved as “Every time something like this happens, authorities usually point fingers at Uyghurs, the notice should not be taken as the evidence of Uyghur involvement in the incident.”  At the time, Beijing’s top anti-terrorism expert Li Wei called the “premeditated terrorist attack” a sign that Uighur separatists were becoming ready to to conduct strikes in major cities. By November, the radical Islamist group  Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) claimed responsibility for the attack and vowed more ambitious attacks.  O Chinese unbelievers, know that you have been fooling East Turkistan for the last sixty years, but now they have awakened,” the organisation’s leader Abdullah Mansour said in the clip, which was postedby the Search for International Terrorist Entities Institute (SITE).

The TIP has claimed responsibility for bus bombings in the Chinese cities Kunming and Shanghai, and threatened attacks on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. But Nicholas Bequelin at Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong told leftist The Guardian he  doubts about such boasts as  “their credibility is dodgy at best”. Not everybody seems to think they are terrorists as the US does not list them on the State Department’s main list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations even as ETIM is designated as a terrorist group by the US under Executive Order 13224, which bans financial transactions with terrorists and they are prevented from entering the US on the Terrorists Exclusion List. Some US reports on terrorism noted that: “China does not always distinguish between legitimate political dissent and the advocacy of violence to overthrow the government, and it has used counterterrorism as a pretext to suppress Uighurs.” and “China’s government characterised Uighur discontent, peaceful political activism, and some forms of religious observance as terrorist activity,” it added. According to Christopher Bodeen in The Big Story,  State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said America supported China’s investigation into the matter. Yet he declined to call it a terrorist attack and reiterated U.S. support for Uighur human rights.

The Global Times on the other hand wasn’t afraid to say that”After the suicide attack in Beijing, no one can deny that ETIM is a terrorist group” and that they are a “a threat not only to China but also to other nations”. They consider ETIM to be tied into the Al Qaeda family of threat groups, including hard hitters such as the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, Islamic Jihad Union, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus and since recently the Al-Nusra Front in Syria who are scaring even rival moderate rebel factions.

[To be continued – a history of the struggle for justice for the Uyghurs]


About the Author

MIT electrical engineering computer science graduate has written conservative columns on politics, race / culture, science and education since the 70s in MIT The Tech and various publications in including New Republic and National Review.