DUBAI: A prominent al Qaeda militant urged Uighurs in Xianjiang to make serious preparations for a holy war against “oppressive” China and called on fellow Muslims to offer support.
Abu Yahya al-Libi, in a video posted on an Islamist website on Wednesday, warned China of a fate similar to that of former communist superpower, the Soviet Union, which disintegrated some two decades ago.
“The state of atheism is heading to its fall. It will face what befell the Russian bear (Soviet Union),” he said in the message in which he accused China of committing massacres against Uighurs and seeking to dissolve their identity.
Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to prop up a Marxist government against Islamist fighters, but was ground down by guerrilla warfare and withdrew in 1988-89. Al Qaeda emerged from the groups that fought Soviet forces at the time.
Uighurs are Muslim native to Xinjiang province, which Islamists call East Turkistan, and have cultural ties to Turkic peoples in Central Asia.
“There is no way to remove injustice and oppression without a true return to their (Uighurs) religion and … serious preparation for jihad in the path of God the Almighty and to carry weapons in the face of those (Chinese) invaders,” he said.
“It is a duty for Muslims today to stand by their wounded and oppressed brothers in East Turkistan … and support them with all they can,” said Libi.
He also accused China of using “satanic ways” to oppress Muslims in the province and replace them with other ethnicities while “looting their wealth and undermining their culture and religion.”
Beijing does not want to lose its grip on Xinjiang in the far West. The vast territory borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. It has abundant oil reserves and is China's largest natural gas-producing region.
Libi said Muslims around the world needed to be made aware of the situation of Uighurs in China.
“Consecutive Chinese governments have worked hard to sever every link between the wounded people of Turkistan and the Muslim nation,” he said. “They are applying (policies) for their demise and destruction so that their numbers would decline and its Islamic identity would be dissolved.”
In August, the leader of a group calling itself the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) urged Muslims to attack Chinese interests to punish Beijing for what he described as massacres against Uighur Muslims.
TIP, which has claimed violent attacks in the past including bombing two public buses in Shanghai in May 2008, has launched violent attacks in the past and accused China of committing “barbaric massacres” against Muslims in Xianjiang.
The province witnessed a wave of violence in July when Uighurs attacked Han Chinese in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, after police tried to break up a protest against fatal attacks on Uighur workers at a factory in south China.
The violence saw 197 people killed and more than 1,600 wounded, mostly Han Chinese. About 1,000 people, mostly Uighurs, have been detained in an ensuing government crackdown. AGENCIES