Islamic terrorists threaten Olympics in video, says US monitoring group
The terrorist group, believed to be Uighurs, warns Muslims to avoid public transport with ethnic Chinese.
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"I think what they're doing is they're trying to capitalize on the buildup to the games," said Ben Venzke of the Washington-based IntelCenter, which provides counterterrorism intelligence to U.S. government agencies.
Venzke said Friday that his group believes that based on the militant group's demonstrated ability to conduct bombings "and the apparent opportunity TIP believes the Olympic Games presents in terms of targeting and striking a blow to China, that the threat is credible and should be taken seriously."
He said the release of a five-page written threat, in conjunction with two videos over the last three months by the group "is indicative of an orchestrated campaign designed to fulfill jihadists belief that they should provide warning before launching a significant attack."
"The Kashgar government at all levels has taken a series of measures to prevent and strike down any trouble," said an announcement on the government's website.
"To ensure stability, (authorities) have strengthened controls on non-residents to root out trouble, stepped up controls on key people, religious figures and trouble-making petitioners to stay abreast of things," it said.
The announcement gave no further details and did not specify what "key people" meant. China has already launched a nationwide effort to halt people petitioning the government over various grievances during the Games.
But the problems between Uighurs and Han Chinese in Kashgar run deep, reports The Wall Street Journal. Beijing has promoted a "gold rush" into western China, prompting Han Chinese to relocate into Xinjiang to make their fortunes, but the migration has resulted in a culture clash.
...the Uighurs and the fast-growing population of transplanted Hans occupy what looks like two Kashgars. Ethnic Hans are rarely seen near the city's traditional Uighur bazaar, where the walls are made of mud and blacksmiths pound iron into door hinges and pots. Instead, they shop at a modern market with escalators and a guard who checks handbags for weapons. Visible from the grounds of a 556-year-old mosque in the old city and rising from behind mud structures is a new Ferris wheel, and beyond that a 59-foot-tall statue of Mao Zedong. Feeding suspicions, few speak the other's language.
Uighurs say they are afraid to speak out. To explain why, an unemployed Uighur sitting in a restaurant demonstrates by grabbing his own neck and forcing it near the floor, then putting his hands behind his back as if he were being handcuffed. Another Uighur, a guard at a hospital entrance, describes an often intimidating police presence in the city, but cautions as a Han person approaches, "Don't tell her what I said."
Han people worry that they are surrounded by devout followers of a religion they don't understand well. [Dang Dongming, a Han former soldier now living in Kashgar], for instance, claims he can identify Islamic fundamentalists by their long beards and draped jackets. "When they come close to me, I'm afraid," he says.
The Wall Street Journal notes that the differences even go so far as what time it is. Han Chinese set their clocks according to the national time zone dictated by Beijing, 2,200 miles west of Kashgar, while local Uighurs set their watches two hours earlier to reflect the distance.