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China links separatists to bin Laden

China has been accused by human rights groups of using the war on terrorism as an excuse to crack down on Islamic activists in Xinjiang
China has been accused by human rights groups of using the war on terrorism as an excuse to crack down on Islamic activists in Xinjiang  


BEIJING, China -- The Chinese government has released a report alleging Muslim separatists in the western province of Xinjiang receive funds and training from Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terror network.

According to the document released Monday, groups advocating the creation of a separate state known as East Turkestan have developed increasingly close links with international terrorists.

"The 'East Turkestan' terrorist organization based in South Asia has the unstinting support of Osama bin Laden and is an important part of his terrorist forces," said the report by China's cabinet, the State Council.

"Bin Laden has schemed with the heads of the Central and West Asian terrorist organizations many times to help the East Turkestan forces in Xinjiang launch a holy war with the aim of setting up a theocratic 'Islam state' in Xinjiang," it added.

Bush visit

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The release of the report comes just one month before a visit to China by U.S. President George W. Bush and its publication is being seen as an attempt to win Washington's support for a crackdown on Islamic extremists.

Counter-terrorism is expected to top the agenda when Bush holds his first full summit meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

However, so far the United States has refused to link the Islamic separatists in Xinjiang to the campaign on terrorism.

On a visit to Beijing last month a senior U.S. envoy on counter-terrorism General Francis Taylor told reporters that several Uighurs fighting with the Taliban had been captured in Afghanistan.

He said Washington had no plans to hand them over to Beijing and declined to call them terrorists.

'Excuse'

The report says several separatists trained in Afghanistan have slipped back into China to plan terror attacks
The report says several separatists trained in Afghanistan have slipped back into China to plan terror attacks  

Since the September 11 attacks on the United States, China has been keen to highlight what it calls its own war on terrorism, particularly what it says is the threat from Central Asian Islamic groups.

Several human rights groups have accused the Chinese government of using the global campaign against terrorism as an excuse to justify crackdowns on political opponents and peaceful separatist campaigns.

In its report, China's State Council blamed "East Turkestan" separatists for more than 200 incidents between 1990 and 2001 in Xinjiang, home to Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs.

The report said 162 people had been killed and more than 440 injured.

It added that militants had also masterminded incidents in Turkey, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, posing a threat to regional security.

'Proof'

"The ironclad details of these bloody facts are irrefutable proof of the nature of the East Turkestan forces as a terrorist organization," it said.

According to the document, entitled "East Turkestan Terrorist Forces Cannot Get Away with Impunity", bin Laden met the leader of one group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, in early 1999.

Bin Laden is wanted by the United States for plotting the September 11 attacks, but despite extensive searches and a $25 million reward his whereabouts are unknown.

The report said dozens of East Turkestan Islamic Movement members trained at bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan had slipped into Xinjiang and other unspecified Chinese provinces, setting up secret terrorist cells and giving technical training in explosives to 150 militants.

In all, more than 100 separatists trained in Afghanistan or elsewhere, had been arrested, it said.



 
 
 
 



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