Aug 07 Chinese Islamic group threatens Olympic transport

Aug. 07, 2008, 2:51 p.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) A Chinese Islamic faction that has threatened to attack the Olympics released a new video warning Muslims to stay away from the Beijing games and avoid buses, trains, planes and buildings used by Chinese, a U.S. group that monitors militant organizations said Thursday.

On the six-minute video issued Wednesday, two days before the opening of the games, a representative of the Turkistan Islamic Party reiterates the group's threats against the Olympics made in a video last month, according to SITE Intelligence Group. It shows images of the Beijing Olympics logo in flames and an explosion over an Olympics venue.

"Choose your side," says the speaker, grasping a rifle and dressed in a black turban and camouflage with his face masked. "Do not stay on the same bus, on the same train, on the same plane, in the same buildings, or any place the Chinese are," he warns Muslims, according to SITE.

The video accuses China of using the Olympics to hide its actions from the world.

The TIP representative spoke the Turkic language of the Uighurs, a largely Muslim minority in China's restive western Xinjiang territory near the borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Uighurs have with a long history of tense relations with the central government.

The Turkistan Islamic Party is believed to be based across the border in Pakistan, where security experts say it has received training from al-Qaeda. Last month, the group issued videotaped threats and claimed responsibility for a series of recent bus bombings in China.

On Monday, assailants killed 16 border police and wounded 16 others in the Xinjiang city of Kashgar when they rammed a stolen truck into the group before tossing homemade bombs and stabbing them. Chinese authorities called the raid a terrorist attack and said they had arrested two men who are Uighurs. No group has claimed responsibility.

The latest video claims the communist regime's alleged mistreatment of Muslims justifies holy war. It accuses China of forcing Muslims into atheism by capturing and killing Islamic teachers and destroying Islamic schools, according to the SITE. It says China's birth control program has forced abortions on Muslim women.

"They are implying that anyone who is complicit with the Chinese regime is a legitimate target," Rita Katz, director of SITE, told The Associated Press.

"The reason for the increased propaganda from TIP at this time is likely due to the fact that the international media's attention on the Olympics in China provides the group with the perfect platform to publicize their existence and activities on a global scale," Katz added.

The group also calls upon Muslims to offer support financially, physically and spiritually, SITE said.

News of the video came just hours after President Bush landed in Beijing for a three day visit to attend the games opening ceremony and some Olympic events.

"I think what they're doing is they're trying to capitalize on the buildup to the games," said Ben Venzke of Washington-based IntelCenter, another group that monitors militant groups.

Terrorism analysts and Chinese authorities have said that with more than 100,000 soldiers and police guarding Beijing and other Olympic co-host cities, terrorists were more likely to attack less-protected areas.

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Associated Press Writer Carley Petesch contributed to this report from New York.

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