Uyghur Separatist Denies Links to Taliban, Al-Qaeda


WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 - The leader of a Uyghur separatist group in northwestern China is rejecting Beijing's allegation that his East Turkestan Islamic Party has received financial and material backing from Osama Bin Laden and his supporters, RFA's Uyghur service reports. "Involvement by some Uyghur individuals with the Taliban doesn't mean that the East Turkestan Islamic Party has relations with the Taliban," Hasan Mahsum told RFA's Uyghur service in a rare interview Jan. 22. "We have no organizational relations with the Taliban. We have enough problems to deal with." "The East Turkestan Islamic Party hasn't received any financial assistance from Osama Bin Laden or his Al-Qaeda organization. We don't have any kind of organizational links with Al-Qaeda or the Taliban," Mahsum said in a telephone interview from a location he declined to disclose. The Chinese government issued a report Jan. 21 alleging that the East Turkestan Islamic Party and Mahsum have received money and training from Bin Laden and the Taliban. It charges specifically that the fugitive Saudi, blamed for masterminding terrorist attacks against the United States, and the Taliban, which sheltered him in Afghanistan, funded and trained at least three Islamic separatist groups in China's northwestern province of Xinjiang. In February 1998, the Chinese report says, Mahsum "sent scores of terrorists into China," training 150 followers in skills such as how to make weapons and handle explosive devices. Xinjiang police, uncovering these workshops, "confiscated large numbers of antitank grenades,hand-grenades, detonators, guns, and ammunition." The United States and its allies have so far rebuffed Beijing's efforts to link Uyghur separatists in Xinjiang to militant Islamic terrorism, despite the reported participation of some Uyghurs among pro-Taliban militia in Afghanistan. The report by China's State Council says separatist violence in Xinjiang killed 162 people and injured more than 440 from 1990-2001. It also accuses militants who seek the creation of a separate East Turkestan state have spearheaded separatist activities in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkey. Human rights groups have accused China of taking advantage of the global war on terrorism to justify efforts to suppress any opposition to its rule over Xinjiang, and the State Council report appears to take direct aim at those charges. "The Chinese government has not taken advantage of any opportunity to institute suppression,' nor does it deem it necessary to do so. It is obvious that the 'East Turkestan' terrorist organizations are brazenly peddling rumors out of ulterior motives," the report said. Radio Free Asia (RFA) is a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting news and information to listeners in those Asian countries where full, accurate, and timely news reports are unavailable. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA aims to deliver such news reports-along with opinions and commentaries-and to provide a forum for a variety of voices and opinions. RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest journalistic standards and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.


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Dec 12, 2009 11:38 PM

May Allah bless