Al Qaida spokesmen announced on Thursday that the organization's militants would soon begin to work towards "freeing their Muslim country," referring to China.
They stated that would specifically target the Asian republic's Muslim-dominated "East Turkestan" region, in what is today Xinjiang.
"our Muslim brethren in Turkestan must know that the only way to be rid of the oppression and exploitation [of Muslims in China] … is Jihad," was the message Al Qaida wished to convey to adherents of Islam in the region.
The fundamentalist organization said in a series of videos that it planned to re-educate a new generation of Chinese Muslims "whose forefathers were not allowed to read the Kuran." Al-Qaida wages war on China: 'Jihad is the only way', Jerusalem Post, Oct. 9, 2009.
The report is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it suggests the success of Chinese responses to the ethnic and religious riots that destabilized portions of Xinjiang in July. "China’s fears about international Islamic militants getting excited over the Xinjiang problem came true with a prominent Al-Qaida leader threatening to attack Chinese targets in "reprisal" for the July 5 riots in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjian.
Abu Yahya al-Libi, the Al-Qaida leader, has urged the Muslim Uygur population in Xinjiang to make "serious preparation for jihad in the path of God the Almighty". He said in a video posted on an Islamist website that Uyghur should carry weapons and opt for "a true return to their religion.'" Al-Qaida leader orders reprisals against Chinese targets for Urumqi riots, The Times of India, Oct. 8, 2009.
The Chinese view this latest announcement as an advantage. One media report explained the logic nicely:
The 9-11 terrorist attack deprived Islamic extremists of any sympathy from people around the world. Almost all of the countries and governments vowed that they were against any form of terrorism.On the other hand, while the Chinese analysis might be truew for state support of independent for Xinjiang among Western states, the al Qaeda efforts may serve to provide greater support for clandestine efforts in the region.
Al-Qaida expressed its support for the Uighur separatists, which made it quite difficult for western countries to blame the Chinese government over the July 5 riot. After all, people around the world will align together when it comes to facing terrorist activities. This will surely win some diplomatic room for the Chinese government in dealing with the riot in Xinjiang. He Liangliang, Al-Qaida support a kiss of death for Uighur separatists, China.org.cn, July 16, 2009