Friday, August 8, 2008

al Qaeda Behind Rising Threat to China, Olympics

It isn't just the West that needs to fear from Islamic Jihadists. Unfortunately silence from World over human rights abuses by the Communist Chinese rulers has opened the door for extremists.

Police shut down the bustling International Bazaar in the capital of China's restive Muslim region of Xinjiang on Friday amid threats from an Islamic group that attackers might target buses, trains and planes during the Olympics.

A sign at the entrance of the bazaar in Urumqi did not explain why the area, surrounded by mosques with minarets, was off limits as the country prepared to kick off the Summer Games thousands of miles (kilometers) away in Beijing.

But one of the many security guards in the bazaar's plaza, which was marked off with crime scene tape, told an AP reporter, "The area is closed because of a possible terrorist attack. It's just a defensive measure."

Even a KFC restaurant in the shopping area -- filled with touristy shops selling carpets and jade -- was closed, and a guard sitting on the steps shooed people away. A few Chinese tourists lingered in the area, snapping photos.

The sprawling, far-flung western region of Xinjiang has long been a source of trouble for China's communist government. The rugged, mineral-rich territory is populated by the Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim minority that has had tense relations with the Chinese. Many Uighurs favor independence or greater autonomy for Xinjiang, which takes up one-sixth of China's land mass and borders eight Central Asian countries.

On Thursday, a videotape purportedly made by the Turkistan Islamic Party -- a militant group seeking Xinjiang independence -- was released with threats to launch attacks during the Olympics.

"Choose your side," says the videotape's 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 a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S. operation that monitors militant organizations.

The Turkistan Islamic Party is believed to be based across the border in Pakistan, where security experts say core members have received training from al-Qaeda.

Another threat being ignored by the West is China's spying.
U.S. intelligence officials issued a strong warning Thursday that Americans traveling overseas, particularly visitors to the Olympics in China, face a serious risk of having sensitive information stolen, reports CBS News correspondent Bob Orr.

The travel alert is blunt:

"All information you send electronically - by fax machine, personal digital assistant (PDA), computer or telephone - can be intercepted."

"Somebody with a wirless device in China should expect it to be compromised while he's there," Brenner said.

And those who must take phones and BlackBerries with them should remove the batteries.

"The public security services in China can turn your telephone on and activate its microphone when you think it's off," said Brenner.

China is one of a number of countries pushing active cyber-espionage programs aimed primarily at cracking U.S. national security computers and stealing corporate trade secrets. Billions have already been lost.

In addition, cyber-gangs and criminals, many based in Asia, have stolen bank accounts and credit card numbers from an untold number of Americans.

And Bush just pretends he gives a damn.
George Bush kept human rights high on the Olympic agenda today by calling for freedom of expression and religion just hours before he was to attend the opening ceremony.

The US president, who has irked the host nation all week by raising human rights issues, continued to press his message after arriving in Beijing.

"We strongly believe societies which allow the free expression of ideas tend to be the most prosperous and the most peaceful," he declared at a ceremony to open a new American embassy.

"We continue to be candid about our belief that all people should have the freedom to say what they think and worship as they choose."

The Chinese government has rejected what officials and the state media described as an attempt to use human rights to meddle in its internal affairs and ruin the mood of the Olympic festival.

A foreign ministry spokesman said their country has made progress in opening the media, reducing executions and widening freedoms of religion.

Bush is the first sitting president to attend an Olympic opening ceremony outside America. His presence has been criticised by US politicians and human rights groups as an endorsement of the one-party state.