Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement
Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party (ETIP)
Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP)
Allah Party [Hizbullah] of East Turkestan
East Turkistan National Revolution Association
China regularly points to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement to justify its crackdown in Muslim majority Xinjiang. The US removed it from the terror list, saying there's "no credible evidence" that it still exists. The United States said it would no longer designate a Chinese Uighur separatist group as a "terrorist organization" on 06 November 2020, sparking sharp condemnation from Beijing. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) was removed from Washington's terror list, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in a notice posted in the Federal Register. "ETIM was removed from the list because, for more than a decade, there has been no credible evidence that ETIM continues to exist," a State Department spokesperson said.
China's foreign ministry spokesman urged the US to "stop backpedaling on international counter-terrorism cooperation" and voiced China's "strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the US decision." said " China deplores and firmly opposes the U.S. decision. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement is a terrorist organization listed by the UN Security Council and known as a terrorist group by the international community. It has long been engaged in terrorist and violent activities, causing heavy casualties and property losses, and posing serious threats to security and stability in China, the region and beyond. Fighting the ETIM is a consensus of the international community and an important part of the international endeavor against terrorism.
"As a co-sponsor of the ETIM’s listing in the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council, the United States has flip-flopped on the designation of ETIM as a terrorist organization, once again exposing the current U.S. administration’s double standard on counter-terrorism and its repulsive practice of condoning terrorist groups as it sees fit. Terrorism is terrorism. The United States should immediately correct its mistakes, refrain from whitewashing terrorist organizations, and stop reversing the course of international counter-terrorism cooperation."
The group still appears on the sanctions list of the United Nations Security Council’s al-Qaeda/Taliban Sanctions Committee. “The group has not really existed since the early 2000s,” said James Millward, a professor of Chinese and Central Asian history at Georgetown University. “Listing ETIM in the first place was the mistake.” The Washington-based Uighur Human Rights Project said Pompeo's decision was "long overdue" and a "definitive rejection of China's claims."
The group was first added to the US terror list in 2004, when former US President George W. Bush sought to gain China as an ally in the US-led "war on terror." ETIM had been listed on the US Terrorist Exclusion List — which designated it as a "terrorist organization" and bars group members and supporters of the group from entering the US. However, the group was never hit with the harsher Foreign Terrorist Organization designation.
US forces conducted air operations to strike Taliban and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or ETIM, training facilities in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province, the commander of NATO air operations in Afghanistan said 07 February 2018. Air Force Maj. Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of NATO Air Command Afghanistan, updated Pentagon reporters via satellite from Afghanistan on the alliance’s Resolute Support mission there. “The destruction of these training facilities prevents terrorists from planning any acts near the border with China and Tajikistan,” the general said. ETIM is a terrorist organization that operates in China and the border regions of Afghanistan, Hecker noted. “ETIM enjoys support from the Taliban in the mountains of Badakhshan, so hitting these Taliban training facilities and squeezing the Taliban's support networks degrades ETIM capabilities,” he said.
The East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) was a small Islamic extremist group based in China’s western Xinjiang Province. The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement is also called the East Turkistan Islamic Party, Allah Party or the East Turkistan National Revolution Association. Chinese sources state that it is one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations among "East Turkistan" terrorist forces. ETIM is said to be linked to al-Qa’ida and the international mujahedin movement. In September 2002 the group was designated by the US Government under EO 13224 as a supporter of terrorist activity. E.O. 13224 targets terrorists and those providing financial, technological, or material support to terrorists or acts of terrorism by freezing the assets of designated persons and prohibiting transactions with them. On 12 September 2002 the United Nations has added to its list of terrorists and terrorist supporters associated with Usama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).
The East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is the most militant of the ethnic Uighur separatist groups pursuing an independent "Eastern Turkistan". A US Government website states that this would be "an area that would include Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China" but this sounds more like a restored Caliphate than Eastern Turkistan.
But no group calling itself ETIM claimed responsibility for violent incidents in the 1990s. While many Uighur or East Turkistan groups have been reported for decades, the first apparent mention of ETIM was in 2000. A Russian press report in August 2000 claimed that the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) had provided military and material assistance to ETIM in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. This Russian newspaper reported that Osama bin Laden had convened a meeting in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 1999 that included the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and ETIM at which he agreed to give them money.
The Chinese Government reported in 2002 that in February 1998, Hasan Mahsum, ringleader of the "East Turkistan Islamic Movement" abroad, sent "scores of terrorists" into China. They were reported to have established about a dozen training bases in Xinjiang and inland regions and trained more than 150 terrorists in 15 training classes. In addition, they were reported to have set up large numbers of training stations in scattered areas, each of them composed of three to five members, and some of them being also workshops for making weapons, ammunition and explosive devices. The Xinjiang police were said to have uncovered many of these underground training stations and workshops, and confiscated large numbers of antitank grenades, hand-grenades, detonators, guns and ammunition.
In 2002 one western journalist interviewed the ETIM leader, Hasan Mahsum, in Pakistan. Mahsum asserted that ETIM had not received assistance from Al Qaeda and had no intention of targeting American interests. On 02 October 2003, Pakistani soldiers killed ETIM leader Hassan Makhsum and others during raids on al-Qa’ida–associated compounds in South Waziristan in western Pakistan. Some observers have suggested that ETIM effectively ceased to exist after Mahsum was killed, since it was said that nothing was heard subsequently of the organization outside of Chinese government sources.
In December 2003, the leadership of of TIP (having changed its name from ETIP in 1999 to be inclusive of non-Uighur Turkic peoples) posted on the Internet an eulogy of Mahsum. The leadership of TIP announced that former Military Affairs Commander Abdul Haq, aka Maimaitiming Maimaiti, had taken over as the overall leader and commander of the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), a.k.a. the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). As TIP overall leader, Abdul Haq raised funds, recruited new members and further developed the terrorist organization. As of 2005, Haq was also a member of al Qaida's Shura Council.
The US Government reports that ETIM militants fought alongside al-Qa’ida and Taliban forces in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. US and Chinese Government information suggests ETIM is responsible for various terrorist acts inside and outside China. In May 2002, two ETIM members were deported to China from Kyrgyzstan for plotting to attack the US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan as well as other US interests abroad. ETIM has received training and financial assistance from al-Qa’ida.
The US Government reports that ETIM had a close financial relationship with al-Qaida and many of its members’ received terrorist training in Afghanistan, financed by al-Qaida and the Taliban. A number of ETIM and ETIM-linked militants were captured in Afghanistan last fall fighting alongside al-Qaida and the Taliban. A July 2002 report from the Hong Kong press quoted captured militants as saying ETIM leaders still worked with Usama bin Laden.
ETIM is said to also have a history of cooperation with other militant Islamic organizations in Central Asia including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an al-Qaida linked organization previously designated by the United States as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, under President Bush’s Executive Order 13224, and included in the United Nations’ list of al-Qaida linked terrorists and supporters.
Although ETIM did not originally target U.S. nationals, by late 2002 the US Government reported that there was evidence indicating that ETIM members had been taking steps to plan attacks against U.S. interests and nationals abroad, including the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. On May 22, 2002, two suspected ETIM members were deported to China from Kyrgyzstan on the grounds that they were planning terrorist attacks. The Kyrgyz government stated that the two men were planning to target embassies in Bishkek as well as trade centers and public gathering places.
When China destroyed an Islamist camp in Xinjiang in January 2007, killing 18 suspected terrorists and capturing 17 others, a police spokeswoman said the training camp was run by ETIM.
Despite a series of violent incidents and threats leading up to the August 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Games were held successfully without terrorist incidents. Starting in June 2008, representatives of a group calling itself the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) posted videos on the Internet taking credit for violent incidents in China and threatening to strike the Olympic Games. TIP is said to be an another name for the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party (ETIP), also known as the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Among the incidents TIP took credit for was a series of bus bombings in Kunming, Yunnan Province that killed two people in July 2008. In March, the Chinese government claimed that flight attendants foiled a plot to detonate a homemade explosive on a flight from Urumqi, Xinjiang to Beijing by subduing a female passenger. The Turkistan Islamic Party has begun publishing a journal, which is modeled on publications of othermore established Jihadist groups.
The US Government reports that it continued to receive information indicating that terrorist groups may be planning attacks, possibly against U.S. interests, in Uzbekistan and Central Asia in general. Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qa’ida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement are thought to be active in the region.
When the United States recognized ETIM as a terrorist group with ties to Al Qaeda in 2002, few scholars studying the Uyghur people had ever heard of this group. But recognizing ETIM as a terrorist group directly led to the imprisonment of twenty-two Uyghurs in the Guantanamo detention facilities for between five and seven years. The US Administration conceded in 2008 that all of the Uighur detainees were “no longer enemy combatants.” But the United States would not send them to China, where they fear persecution, torture, and/or execution. Uighurs at Guantanamo testified that they were trained by none other than Abdul Haq, who was the one responsible for the camp.
On April 20, 2009 the U.S. Department of the Treasury targeted al Qaida's support network by designating Abdul Haq, the overall leader and commander of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party (ETIP). This Treasury action followed a decision by the United Nations Security Council's 1267 Committee to place Haq on its list of persons associated with Usama bin Laden, al Qaida, or the Taliban and subject to sanctions by UN member states. "Abdul Haq commands a terror group that sought to sow violence and fracture international unity at the 2008 Olympic Games in China," said Stuart Levey, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. "Today, we stand together with the world in condemning this brutal terrorist and isolating him from the international financial system." Since late 2007, Abdul Haq sent terrorists to the Middle East to raise funds and buy explosive materials for terrorist attacks against Chinese targets outside China. In early January 2008, Haq directed ETIP's military commander to attack various Chinese cities, particularly focusing on the cities holding the Olympic Games. Under Haq, trained terrorists planned to sabotage the Olympic Games by conducting terrorist attacks within China before the Olympics began.