Chinese group planned attacks on embassies, U.S. says

Islamic militants intended violence in Kyrgyzstan

August 31, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

BEIJING - A little-known Muslim group from western China that Washington recently branded as terrorists planned attacks on Western embassies in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, a U.S. official said yesterday.

During a friendly visit to Beijing this week, Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage disclosed that the United States had placed the group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, on Washington's terror list, freezing any U.S.-based assets it might hold. The group has killed civilians, he said.

The group is one of several that have emerged among Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang province to seek an independent Muslim state or to challenge China's harsh social and economic domination. Its leader abroad, Hasan Mahsum, has admitted using violence, claiming the movement has no choice.

Stung by questions about the timing of adding the Muslim group to the list of terrorist organizations, U.S. officials provided new details this week in support of the charges, particularly evidence provided by the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan.

In May, Kyrgyzstan deported two Chinese Uighurs from the East Turkestan group to China because of evidence that they were "planning attacks against embassies, trade centers and public gathering places in Kyrgyzstan," a U.S. Embassy spokesman said yesterday.

Authorities in Kyrgyzstan said one of the two men handed over to China, Mamet Yasyn, had surveyed embassies and markets in the capital city, Bishkek.

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