In the past week, there have been a spate of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, the Muslim-majority province in China. On Aug. 4, militants killed 16 police in Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, which is near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. On Sunday, bombers attacked 17 sites in Kuqa, west-central Xianjiang. Although I haven’t seen any claim of responsibility for the attacks, a good candidate is the Islamic Party of Turkistan (IPT), which in recent weeks has been threatening terrorist attacks in China during the Olympic Games. They have also claimed other recent attacks.
Although little is known about the IPT, Aaron Weisburd has done some amazing cyber sleuthing and discovered that the IPT hosted the website of `Abd al-Hakim Hassan. Aaron did not know who Hassan was and neither did the Jihadi ideologues on the elite Hesbah forum. But he knew that Hassan was someone important because al-Qaeda’s media distribution organization, al-Fajr, announced the establishment of his website.
As I wrote in June, Hassan is the alias for al-Qaeda cleric Shaykh `Isa. `Isa has a lot of sway over the Pakistani Taliban and has provided the doctrinal justification for its campaign against the Pakistani government. He is a near-enemy ideologue that would rather Jihadis in Afghanistan and Pakistan decrease attacks against the U.S. in foreign countries and focus on achieving power locally (see my analysis of one of his articles here).
I don’t know if Hassan/`Isa’s internet connection with the IPT gives us any hints about the group’s strategy, but tells us something about its ideological orientation. It is also further proof that the group has direct links with al-Qaeda Central.