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East Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO)
Eastern Turkestan Liberation Organization

The East Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO), better known as SHAT, is one of several ethnic Uyghur groups operating in central Asia and the Chinese province of Xinjiang. Its main goal has been to oppose and exclude the Han people in Xinjiang and finally to accomplish Xinjiang's independence. The Chinese Government reported in 2002 that the "East Turkestan Liberation Organization" was established in 1990. By another account, Mehmet Emin Hazret founded the East Turkistan Liberation Organization in 1996. Russia and China have blamed the ETLO for several small attacks in both China and Central Asia. Many analysts claim that Russian and Chinese authorities exaggerate the potency of the Uyghur groups to justify their repressive "counter-terror" policies. According to the State Department, the ETLO is responsible for a series of small politically-motivated bombings and armed attacks.

In March 2000 Nighmet Bosakof, president of the Kyrgyzstan "Uygur Youth Alliance," was shot dead in front of his house, supposedly by members of the East Turkistan Liberation Organization because he had refused to cooperate with them. In order to raise money, in May 2000 the "Eastern Turkestan Liberation Organization" kidnapped a Xinjiang businessman, and set fire to his ware in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. On 25 May 2000 they attacked a Chinese working group in Kyrgyzstan, killed one of its members and wounded two more. Russia and China blamed the ETLO for the assassination of the First Secretary of the Chinese Embassy and a Uyghur Kyrgyz citizen, in Bishek, Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz authorities disagreed, stating that the primary target of the attack may have been the Uyghur businessman the diplomat was traveling with.

The East Turkistan Liberation Organization is reported to have used CBRN materials for terrorism. The Chinese Government reported in 2002 that from January 30 to February 18, 1998, members of the East Turkistan Liberation Organization were responsible for 23 poisoning cases in Kashi City. One innocent person died as a result, and four others suffered serious effects. In addition, thousands of domestic animals died or suffered badly. On May 23, 1998, members of the "East Turkistan Liberation Organization" who had sneaked into Xinjiang after receiving special training abroad, were reported to have committed 15 cases of arson with some 40 chemical comburents in the busiest areas of Urumqi.

The Anti-Terrorism Bureau under the Ministry of Public Security reported that on March 27, 2003, the East Turkistan Liberation Organization hijacked a passenger bus of a Xinjiang company, killed all the 21 passengers and the driver and set the bus on fire with the bodies inside it. In 2003, Mehmet Emin Hazret, the leader of the East Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO), an organization targeted by the PRC's 2002 report as a terrorist organization, denied that his group was responsible for violent incidents or that he had knowledge of an organization called ETIM. Nonetheless, he acknowledged that ETLO would inevitably set up amilitary wing to target the PRC government for its oppression of the Uighur people. The leader of the ETLO claimed that a military wing was necessary to show people that his organization was serious.

In November 2006, the Government of Kazakhstan added the East Turkistan Liberation Organization and Aum Shinrikyo to the national list of banned terrorist organizations, accusing these groups of using terrorist means in an attempt to achieve an independent state in Central Asia and in China, respectively.

Global Defence Review claims that both ETLO and ETIM are "widely acknowledged" to get funding and training from al-Qaeda. But much debate exists regarding the ETLO's links to al-Qaeda, Osama bin-Laden, and the Taliban.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:05:06 ZULU