Al-Qaeda Threatens China

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network has taken up the cause of China’s Muslim Uighur minority with a pledge to attack Chinese workers in North-Western Africa in retaliation for mistreatment by Beijing of its largest Muslim minority in Urumqi. The Algerian based Al-Qaeda offshoot, the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has threatened to target the 50,000 Chinese nationals in North-Western Africa.

It is the first time that any al-Qaeda group has threatened China or its interests and illustrates the high price that Beijing may pay for the riots in Urumqi, in which at least 136 Han Chinese and 46 Uighurs died last week. Though an expert assessment does not suggest there is any direct link between Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province and al-Qaida. It also suggests it is unlikely that al-Qaida's central leadership has decided to stage attacks within China.

Security remains tight in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, after two Uighurs were shot dead by police yesterday and a third wounded in a street fight, the details of which remain unclear. Everyone in the city must now carry their identity card or driving licence or they will be taken away for interrogation.

AQIM, which wants to impose an Islamic state in Algeria, was founded in the mid-1990s and pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden in 2003. The huge oil and gas reserves in Xinjiang, as well as the web of pipelines that run through the province, funnelling energy from Kazakhstan and Russia all the way to Beijing and Shanghai, make the province vital to China's interests.
However, China's policy of total control has upset Islamic states, especially in the past week. Protesting Muslims in Indonesia called for a jihad against China on Monday, clashing with police outside the Chinese embassy in Jakarta.

News Source:
Times Online
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