BEIJING An obscure militant group that threatened attacks on the Olympic Games last week is the same group that Chinese officials have labeled the leading terrorist organization involved in a separatist movement in western China, according to an American organization that tracks terrorist Internet postings.
The obscure group, the Turkestan Islamic Party, released a video on Wednesday showing a burning Olympic logo and warning Muslims not to go to the Games and to keep their children from attending. The warning was presumably intended to save any Muslims from violence that the group had planned to disrupt the Games.
The Turkestan Islamic Party is the same group as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, commonly known as ETIM, according to IntelCenter, a group based in Virginia that monitors militants' Internet postings.
Several specialists on Xinjiang, the western region of China where the militants presumably have some support, say that the origins of ETIM are murky and that China may be fabricating the threat to justify hard-line policies in its western region.
In Xinjiang, many Muslim Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking ethnic group, resent rule by ethnic Han Chinese. Some Uighurs (pronounced WEE-goors) have strongly advocated independence.
The State Department has listed ETIM as a terrorist group, and some Chinese government officials have blamed ETIM for several violent episodes this year. Officials in the western town of Kashgar said two Uighurs who killed 16 paramilitary police officers last Monday were linked to ETIM. Government officials also say they have raided several ETIM hideouts this year, arresting dozens of militant Uighurs.
The Turkestan Islamic Party released three video threats and one five-page written threat from March 1 to last Thursday, IntelCenter said. In a video released on July 23, a masked man identified as Commander Seyfullah said TIP was responsible for bus bombings in Kunming and Shanghai that killed five people and wounded at least 26.
In that video, Commander Seyfullah also threatened attacks during the Olympics.
Last Tuesday, Chinese officials in Kashgar said they had evidence that ETIM planned to carry out a series of attacks to disrupt the Olympics.
The officials said that according to the plan, the attacks would start in March or April and continue until the Games.
They said that some of those plans had been disrupted but that the deadly assault last Monday had succeeded.