Viewing cable 08BEIJING658
Title: XINJIANG: NEWSPAPER REPORTS ON TERRORIST SHOOTOUT

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08BEIJING6582008-02-22 12:06:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beijing
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OO RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #0658/01 0531206
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 221206Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5290
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIJING 000658 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/22/2033 
TAGS: PTER PGOV OREP CASC KOLY KG AF KZ UZ CH TI
TU, GM, PK 
SUBJECT: XINJIANG: NEWSPAPER REPORTS ON TERRORIST SHOOTOUT 
IN URUMQI; MEDIA, SCHOLARS EMPHASIZE OLYMPIC THREAT 
 
REF: A. OCS/FBIS CPP20080219480001 
     ¶B. OCS/FBIS CPP20080214710001 
     ¶C. BEIJING 581 
 
Classified By: Deputy Political Section Chief Ben Moeling.  Reasons 1.4 
 (b) and (d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
¶1. (C) The Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao), a newspaper run by 
the CCP's flagship People's Daily newspaper, reported in two 
articles, published on February 18 and 20 respectively, that 
Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) police raided a 
"violent terrorist cell (tuanhuo)" on the evening of January 
27 in Urumqi's "biggest residential development," killing two 
"terrorists" and arresting fifteen more who have confessed to 
their crimes (ref A).  The article claimed the group had 
received guidance (zhishi) from foreign terrorist 
organizations and were conspiring to carry out "acts of 
violent terrorism."  Ministry of Public Security (MPS) 
officials in Beijing on February 19 confirmed basic details 
of the raid, but would not give information on possible 
threats made by this specific group to the Olympic Games. 
Media quoted Beijing- and Urumqi-based scholars who took the 
raid as an opportunity to stress the terrorist threat to the 
upcoming Olympics, with Beijing-based counterterrorism expert 
Li Wei stating that "East Turkestan" terrorist organizations 
have "on different occasions openly threatened to use 
violence and murder (baoli biji shouduan) to interfere with 
and ruin the Beijing Olympics."  End summary. 
 
CCP Media: Police-Terrorists Shootout in Urumqi 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
¶2. (SBU) The Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao), a newspaper run 
by the CCP's flagship People's Daily newspaper, reported in 
two articles, published on February 18 and 20 respectively, 
that Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) police raided a 
"violent terrorist cell" on the evening of January 27 in 
Urumqi's "biggest residential development," killing two 
"terrorists" and arresting fifteen more (ref A).  Although 
"several" police suffered wounds, none were killed in the 
"well-conceived," "smooth" operation.  Terrorists had rented 
an apartment in Xinfu Huayuan development (xiaoqu) of 
Tianshan District, which they were using to "assemble 
explosives" and "carry out training."  Police found at the 
site a number of guns, home-made (zizhi) explosives, "violent 
terrorist activity equipment" and religious extremist 
propaganda.  They had received guidance (zhishi) from foreign 
terrorist organizations and were conspiring to carry out 
"acts of violent terrorism."  The terrorists have already 
confessed to their crimes.  The February 20 article quotes 
XUAR Party Secretary (and Politburo member) Wang Lequan 
stating in a "recent" interview with "Hong Kong media" that 
"right now, we take out (dadiao) ten to twenty violent 
terrorist cells (tuanhuo) each year." 
 
Global Times Refutes HK Sing Tao Jih Pao Report 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
¶3. (SBU) The February 20 Global Times article also quoted an 
unnamed Xinjiang official as "resolutely refuting" a February 
14 report in Hong Kong's Sing Tao Jih Pao newspaper on a 
similar incident (ref B).  The Sing Tao article reported that 
eighteen "terrorists" and two police officers were killed 
during a raid, and claimed that "several hundred" police were 
involved in surrounding the apartment.  The reported location 
of the raid was the same, but Sing Tao claimed that the raid 
took place on February 4, just before the "terrorists" could 
carry out an attack the following day on the eleventh 
anniversary of the Yining ("Ghulja" in Uighur) incident of 
1997 (see note below).  The February 20 Global Times report 
included Sing Tao's report of a planned February 5 attack in 
Urumqi, but made no mention of the Yining incident.  The 
Global Times article also described the anger of local 
residents at the fact that the Xinfu Huayuan development 
police station had allowed a "nest of terror" to set up 
"right under their (own) eyelids," just 300 meters from the 
station, adding that one official at the local police station 
is rumored to have been fired.  However, both reports 
emphasized the continued stability of, and local citizens' 
confidence in, Xinjiang's overall security situation. 
 
¶4. (C) NOTE: On February 5, 1997, Chinese security forces 
brutally suppressed Uighur demonstrations against 
restrictions on social gatherings of young Muslims in Yining 
City, Yili Prefecture.  PolOffs visiting Yining on the tenth 
anniversary of the crackdown witnessed a number of 
 
BEIJING 00000658  002 OF 003 
 
 
approximately six-to-eight member security force teams 
patrolling through the streets at night, armed with tear gas 
guns.  Additionally, one Han taxi driver told PolOffs to be 
careful because the "Uighurs might riot."  End Note. 
 
¶5. (SBU) The official Xinhua News Agency, the China Daily and 
other popular online news portals such as Sina.com, Sohu.com 
and QQ.com all carried news of the incident on February 18, 
but the story received minimal attention in Xinjiang local 
online media.  While www.xjnews.com and the Urumqi Evening 
News website carried the Global Times story, as of the 
afternoon of February 22, Poloff found no reporting of the 
raid on two major Xinjiang online news sites, 
www.tianshannet.com and www.xjdaily.com. 
 
MPS Tells LegAtt: "Read the Newspaper" 
-------------------------------------- 
 
¶6. (C) The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) confirmed to the 
Embassy Beijing Legal Attache on February 19 that the raid 
took place and that two "terrorists" were killed, fifteen 
arrested, and no police lost their lives.  Pressed for more 
details, MPS officials simply told LegAtt to "read the 
newspaper," likely referring to the February 19 Global Times 
article.  MPS made clear that the Sing Tao report of February 
14 was "completely inaccurate."  PolOff spoke with a XUAR 
Public Security Bureau Propaganda Department official on 
February 19 who refused to discuss the raid on the grounds 
that he did not have MPS approval to do so. 
 
¶7. (SBU) Asked about the incident at the February 19 regular 
MFA press briefing, spokesman Liu Jianchao said he had seen 
reports of the incident and that China's position on 
terrorism is firm and "in line" with that of the 
international community (ref C). 
 
Media, Scholars Hype Threat to Olympics 
--------------------------------------- 
 
¶8. (C) Both Global Times articles quoted Li Wei, 
counterterrorism expert from the Ministry of State 
Security-affiliated China Institutes for Contemporary 
International Relations (CICIR), stating, "This incident 
reminds us that ensuring the security for the Olympics is not 
just limited to Beijing, and that in some areas where 
terrorist activities have occurred, attention must be 
increased."  The February 20 article quotes Li Wei more 
extensively.  Li warns that "East Turkestan" terrorist 
organizations have "on different occasions openly threatened 
to use violence and murder (baoli biji shouduan) to interfere 
with and ruin the Beijing Olympics."  Li also points out that 
other organizations and groups might commit violent acts 
during "the year of the Beijing Olympics." 
 
¶9. (SBU) Despite Li's assertion that foreign terrorist 
organizations have recently decreased support for violent 
acts of terrorism within China's borders as a means of 
garnering "moral and political support from Western 
countries," he warns that these groups are still actively 
preparing and training and almost always have foreign links. 
For these reasons, Li stresses that China's counterterrorism 
responsibility this year is "formidable," and reminds the 
masses to prepare themselves to prevent and deal with a 
variety of "sudden disturbances" (tufa shijian). 
 
¶10. (SBU) The February 20 Global Times article also reports 
an interview with Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences 
counterterrorism expert Pan Zhiqiang, who similarly takes the 
topic of the Urumqi shootout as an opportunity to discuss 
threats to Olympic security.  Pan is quoted saying that the 
Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX 
Olympiad (BOCOG) must strengthen counterterrorism work.  Pan 
adds that Xinjiang must also continue to carry out 
counterterrorism efforts on a "great scale" in order to 
"vigorously purge" the home front of "terrorists." 
 
¶11. (C) MPS officials told LegAtt February 19 that they 
perceive groups like the one targeted in the recent raid as a 
threat to the Olympic Games.  When LegAtt asked if this 
specific group had made threats regarding the Olympics, the 
official gave no information. 
 
XJ Secretary Wang on XJ terrorism 
--------------------------------- 
 
¶12. (SBU) State-controlled news portal Sina.com carried a 
February 20 China News Online (Zhongguo Xinwen Wang) report, 
which includes extensive excerpts from a "recent" Phoenix 
Television interview with XUAR Party Secretary Wang Lequan, 
 
BEIJING 00000658  003 OF 003 
 
 
in which Wang discussed the history of terrorism in Xinjiang, 
measures taken to combat the problem and even his detailed 
assessment of United States-based Uighur activist Rebiya 
Kadeer.  (Note: The article does not include a reference to 
security forces' uncovering ten to twenty terrorist cells per 
year, as highlighted by the Global Times.) 
 
¶13. (C) Wang describes the Government's account of the Yining 
incident, which he alleges was organized by the "East 
Turkestan Liberation Organization" (ETLO, also abbreviated 
using its Uighur language initials as SHAT), and says there 
were over 250 cases of "violent acts of terrorism" carried 
out in Xinjiang by "East Turkestan" forces in the 1990s.  The 
report also quotes Wang telling the journalist that he was 
the "first name" on an assassination list of the "East 
Turkestan Islamic Opposition Party" in the late-1990s. 
RANDT