Leader of ETIM terrorist group was arrested by Turkish police
A Facebook account named“EnverEnver Karakas” recently reported that Abudukadir Yapuquan(阿不都卡德尔•亚甫泉)，a leader of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) terrorist organization, was detained by Turkish police on the 31st of August. According to the released information, Abudukadir Yapuquan was arrested in Turkey under the pressure of the Chinese government.
The "East Turkestan" forces outside of China reacted strongly to the detainment of Yapuquan, threatening to take “immediate action” to put pressure on the Turkish government.
According to anonymous sources, a street protest was held on September 2nd outside the consulate-general of China in Istanbul and also the Istanbul Police Department. The demonstration was organized by 黑达依吐拉•乌谷孜汗, a key member of the East Turkestan Education and Solidarity Association (ETESA) in Turkey. At the same time, they also planned to form a joint force with compatriots of the ETIM in other countries in order to “rescue” Yapuquan.
On the same day, leaders of the World Uyghur Congress such as 帕尔哈提•买买提 posted Abudukadir Yapuquan's profile on Facebook, calling for his immediate release. It is believed that the ETIM is deeply afraid of being eradicated by both the Turkish and Chinese governments.
Who is Abudukadir Yapuquan? Why did his detainment ignite fear among the ETIM?
The most-wanted terrorist of the ETIM
In 2003 China released a list of the names of four “East Turkestan” terrorist groups and 11 East Turkestan terrorists. Abudukadir Yapuquan was listed ahead of Hasan Mahsum(艾山•买合苏木), 买买提明•艾孜来提、多里坤•艾沙、阿不都吉力力•卡拉卡西. According to news reports from the Hong Kong media at that time, these prominent members of the ETIM were either dead or less involved in terrorist activities. But Yapuquan is the exception as he is believed to be the most active terrorist of “East Turkestan”.
In recent years Yapuquan helped form the ETIM terrorist organization which aims to form an independent state called East Turkestan in a large area which includes part of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). He also established militarytraining camps in Afghanistan used for the training of terrorists. He planned, organized and carried out a series of terrorist attacks in China. In December 2003, the International Crime Police Organization (ICPO) issued a red arrest warrant for him.
Abudukadir Yapuquan was born in 1958, and had a difficult childhood as he often got into trouble with the law during his adolescence. He was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment after being caught in the possession of stolen guns when he was 15 years old. After he was released from prison, he planned and organized a number of crimes and he also got involved in terrorist activities. In 1997 he departed Gaoqi port in Xiamen Fujian province and illegally immigrated to Saudi Arabia using a fake passport with the name of 吐尔逊·胡达拜尔地.
In April 1997 Yapuquan and Hasan Mahsum formed the “Turkistan Islamic Party”, formerly known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in Islamabad in Pakistan. This separatist group was later named on a sanction list from the United Nations 1267 committee in 2003. At the time of forming the ETIM in Pakistan, Hasan Mahsum was elected as the “chairman” and Yapuquan was the “vice-chairman”.
Li Wei, director of the anti-terrorism research center at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) was quoted as saying that Yapuquan launched the ETIM and he was a key figure of the “East Turkestan” force in Turkey. So it is not surprising that the imprisonment of Yapuquan has ignited anger among his compatriots of the ETIM who have declared they will “rescue their leader”.
Deport militants from abroad back to China
Since 1998, Yapuquan has transported several ETIM members to China for terrorist attacks. According to sources of authority, a key member of the ETIM under the pseudonym of 吾不力卡斯木 said that he was sent to China in December 1997 by Hasan Mahsum and Abudukadir Yapuquan. He bought communication devices and explosives with 20,000 US dollars given by his “bosses”. Then he organized militant training exercises focused on manufacturing explosive devices, disassembling weapons and shooting guns in different environments. “During training we kept in touch with Hasan Mahsum and Yapuquan to receive their instructions anytime so that we knew what to do next,” said吾不力卡斯木.
It is noteworthy that quite a number of ETIM members who travelled to China were illegal immigrants. An ETIM member under the pseudonym of 阿布都热合曼 confessed that he was brainwashed by Yapuquan after he immigrated to Turkey in September 2011. He worked in restaurants and orchards in order to make a living. It was Yapuquan who propagated doctrines of the “Holy War” and persuaded him to join the ETIM. In December 2011阿布都热合曼 spent 220 US dollars travelling to the tribal areas of Pakistan where he received militant training. In June 2012, Yapuquan ordered阿布都热合曼 to return to China and instructed him how to implement terrorist attacks. Luckily, he was arrested by Chinese police when he arrived in Shenzhen via the Hong Kong international airport.
The same thing happened to 阿不都艾尼, the pseudonym of another ETIM member. In May 2012, he travelled from Egypt to Turkey where he met Yapuquan. He was told by Yapuquan that he should go to Afghanistan to learn about the techniques of how to make explosives and use weapons. After he mastered the skills, he travelled to China to participate in a “Holy War”. Yapuquan supported him by giving him 4000 US dollars. In 2013阿不都艾尼 was arrested shortly after he arrived in Beijing.
Li Wei, director of the anti-terrorism research center at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) was quoted saying that ETIM has gained a growing number of strongholds in Turkey. “In recent years we have frequently witnessed the movements of ‘East Turkestan’ terrorists who went abroad via illegal immigration and returned to China to instigate havoc. Usually they travelled across South Asia and South East Asia before gathering in Turkey. Then they would travel to Syria and South East Asia to undertake militant training. Such routes are quite similar to other international terrorist groups.”
“It must be good if western countries help ISIS come to China!”
Apart from plotting and organizing terrorist activities, Yapuquan also indulged in using the internet as a tool for radicalization and recruitment.
On 28 October 2013, a car crashed in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in what police described as a terrorist suicide attack. In November 2013, Yapuquan recorded a video and posted it on the “independent radio” website and YouTube, calling on compatriots of “East Turkestan” to learn from “holy warriors” and stage a “holy war” against the Chinese government. “If you do not follow my instructions, there will be no way out,” Yapuquan said.
On the 23rd of May 2014, Yapuquan posted another propaganda video on the “independent radio” website. It was one day after a violent terrorist incident in Urumqi Xinjiang. He said in the video that “I hope that people of East Turkestan will fight against the Han Chinese and Chinese official organs, and they must try every means to take action within the territory of East Turkestan.”
Although Yapuquan claimed that the purpose of the ETIM was not to join the so called IS, his words on the Internet could not be separated with that of the IS.
On the 17th of April 2015, Yapuquan posted a video on the “independent radio" website and he raised a question: Will ISIS enter East Turkestan? He boldly declared that it would be good news if ISIS did come to China one day with the assistance of some western countries. He was eagerly “looking forward to the integration of the ISIS with East Turkestan”.
According to Li Wei, Yapuquan lied to the public by saying that he was different from other terrorists. “In fact, that was just his propaganda technique.” Li said, the ETIM terrorists are essentially the same as other terrorist groups, and they are closely connected.
On the 30th of August 2016, a suicide bomber rammed his car into the Chinese embassy in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, injuring at least three employees. The Kyrgyz security committee said that the attack was organized by Uighur terrorist groups active in Syria and affiliated with Jabhat al-Nusra.
The occurrence of such an affiliation is by no means fortuitous. Media based in Hong Kong China reported in 2015 that the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011 has dealt a heavy blow to the AL-Qaeda terrorist group. Since 2012, there has been a growing number of ETIM members who were deported from Afghanistan to join Jabhat al-Nusra(sometimes called AL-Qaeda in Syria).
A teacher in Chuo University Japan named 水谷尚子found that a number of ETIM terrorists entered Syria via southern Turkey and took militant training for five months. Such training exercises are similar to new recruitment training in the military. “One thing that differentiates them is that terrorists have to learn how to sing Arabic songs in order to boost morale.”
When talking about the association between ETIM members and other terrorist groups, Yapuquan boasted to the media that “As far as I know, the number of warriors in Syria is enough to stage a war. Someone said there are 2000 people in Syria, but I definitely know it is more than that.”
Li Wei said China is confronted with two types of terrorist threat: one is a terrorist plot by the ETIM itself and the other is allied terrorist activities. He added that the suicide attack against the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan amplified the interconnection between the ETIM and other terrorist groups The ETIM members could not implement this attack without the support from other terrorist groups in Central Asia and West Asia.
Expert: China and Turkey should cooperate to extradite Yapuquan
It has been a month since Yapuquan was arrested in Turkey. Amid mounting pressure from “East Turkestan” will the Turkish government compromise and release Yapuquan?
Li Wei said that Yapuquan's detainment depends on the law of Turkey. Not only the ETIM is pressuring the Turkish government. Some extremist groups closely connected with the ETIM are demanding the release of Yapuquan.
There is also some concern that Yapuquan was arrested because Beijing pressured Istanbul. This opinion was rebutted by Li Wei, who maintained that Turkey did this for the sake of its national interests. “Security in Turkey has been deteriorating in recent years partly because terrorists and extremists use the country as their base of operations. Therefore, Turkey cannot tolerate terrorists anymore.”
Li said that China is hoping to cooperate with Turkey to extradite Yapuquan back to China. Judicial cooperation between the two countries is crucial to bilateral cooperation on anti-terrorism.