Sunday, March 09, 2008

Chinese Islamic fanatics looking to go to The Show

The Chinese, about to host this summer's Olympics, are sweating a domestic terrorist threat. The insurgents/rebels/terrorists (its all perspective, isn't it?) are ethnic Uighurs from Xinjiang, in the far west of China, and represent the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

While this sounds like a punchline out of Monty Python's Life of Brian, these guys are quite serious. It ain't easy running a domestic terror campaign in a police state, but ETIM has managed to be a minor thorn in the Chinese side for some time now.

Much as the Chinese see the August Olympics as a chance to show their stuff on the world stage, ETIM is apparently gearing up for their own events in the International Terror Games, where most of the records are currently held by the Palestinians of Black September.

This promises to be a most interesting chess match. China has been working towards the Olympics for years, clearly intending for the Games to showcase the new-and-improved People's Republic. A successful Olympic fortnight represents huge (HUGE) political and economic gains for Hu Jintao and company. Similarly, a terrorist event of any kind brings shame and enormous loss of faith for the entire nation, not to mention a ton of instant street cred for whoever pulls of the successful attack.

The reality is, in today's world, any major international gathering, and especially the Olympics, are going to be the highest of high-stakes contests between security services and freedom fighters/terrorists/fanatics of every stripe

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