The Tentacles of ISIS Reach Toward China

by

It’s been reported on the always-reliable Twitter by a Pakistan journalist, Ali Kamran Chishti, that Abdul Maulana Aziz has declared his support for the “Caliphate of Abu Bakar Baghdadi” i.e. ISIS.

If confirmed, this is potentially big and bad news for the People’s Republic of China.

Abdul Maulana Aziz was the radical spiritual leader of Lal Masjid, the Red Mosque, in downtown Islamabad.

In 2007, after a prolonged and desultory siege, Pakistan armed forces stormed the mosque, signaling a partial fracture of the de facto alliance between the Pakistan deep state and radical Islam.

The confrontation was little noted in the West, but it was big news in the People’s Republic of China.

Followers of the Red Mosque had targeted Chinese sex workers as part of a purification campaign; Uighur students—“terrorists” according to the PRC–were reportedly ensconced at the mosque; and, as the as the siege muddled slowly on its initial stages, radical Islamists retaliated against Chinese in other parts of the country.

In response the PRC, which at that time relied largely upon the good offices of its local allies and assets to keep a lid on Uighur extremism, demanded action.  Pervez Musharraf, torn between his military/intelligence and Chinese constituencies, obliged the PRC by sending troops personally loyal to him to storm the mosque in a bloody, catastrophic attack that probably claimed hundreds of lives.

Aziz had previously attempted to escape the siege by disguising himself in a burka, but was captured and paraded before the cameras in a humiliating fashion.  His brother died in the assault.

Maulana Aziz was released on bail in 2009 and spoke to an adoring throng.  The Guardian described the scene:

The 2007 siege had been a necessary sacrifice, he told them. “Hundreds were killed, many were injured. But today the whole country is resounding with cries to implement Islamic law. We will continue with the struggle.

“Now Islam will not remain confined to Swat. It will spread all over Pakistan, then all over the world.”

Standing beside him was a senior leader from Sipa-e-Sahaba, a banned sectarian group that kills Shias, and which has close ties to the Red mosque.

In 2013, in another murky episode of Pakistan jurisprudence, the over two dozen legal cases against Maulana Aziz all evaporated without any serious government challenge.

Judging by Maulana Aziz’s subsequent re-emergence as member of the Pakistani Taliban’s negotiation team, one can assume his ties to the ISI intelligence services remain strong, and he was cut loose with the hope that he would smooth the way in peace talks between the TTP and the Pakistani government.

The TTP is reportedly a willing host to Uzbek and Uighur fighters, and does not adhere to the basically hands-off strategy toward the PRC followed by many Islamic militants in the region (China’s links to militants run long and deep, thanks to its central role in funneling hundreds of millions of dollars of materiel to the mujihadeen on the CIA’s behalf during the anti-Soviet struggle in Afghanistan).  The TTP talks don’t seem to be going anywhere, which is bad news for the PRC.

Maulana Aziz is apparently residing in Islamabad, so it remains to be seen what caveats or qualifications he places upon his ISIS allegiance in order to dodge legal jeopardy–and if he and the ISI (Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence) will encourage forbearance in the matter of enabling the training and infiltration of Uighur radicals back into Xinjiang.

Best case for PRC, the bond holds despite Maulana Aziz’s presumably deep resentment against the PRC for its role in the siege and the death of his brother, and his apparent sympathy for the extreme Sunni/sharia stance of ISIS.

Worst case, the ISI exploits radical forces and exacts a terrorist price tag in Xinjiang for PRC attempts to balance its support for Pakistan with its desire to strengthen ties with India, in a recapitulation of the bloody anti-diplomacy inflicted on Mumbai by Pakistan terror assets in 2008.

But in any case, the awareness that the dots are slowly but surely getting connected from ISIS to the TTP and onward to Xinjiang will shadow Beijing’s thoughts, its Uighur security policy, and its diplomacy with Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban, and its interlocutors among Islamic radicals in Pakistan’s borderlands.

Peter Lee wrote a ground-breaking essay on the Chinese military in the June issue of CounterPunch magazine. He edits China Matters.

 

Peter Lee edits China Matters and writes about Asia for CounterPunch.  

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 03, 2015
Sal Rodriguez
How California Prison Hunger Strikes Sparked Solitary Confinement Reforms
Lawrence Ware
Leave Michael Vick Alone: the Racism and Misogyny of Football Fans
Dave Lindorff
Is Obama the Worst President Ever?
Vijay Prashad
The Return of Social Democracy?
Ellen Brown
Quantitative Easing for People: Jeremy Corbyn’s Radical Proposal
Paul Craig Roberts
The Rise of the Inhumanes: Barron, Bybee, Yoo and Bradford
Binoy Kampmark
Inside Emailgate: Hillary’s Latest Problem
Lynn Holland
For the Love of Water: El Salvador’s Mining Ban
Geoff Dutton
Time for Some Anger Management
Jack Rasmus
The New Colonialism: Greece and Ukraine
Norman Pollack
American Jews and the Iran Accord: The Politics of Fear
John Grant
Sorting Through the Bullshit in America
David Macaray
The Unbearable Lightness of Treaties
Chad Nelson
Lessig Uses a Scalpel Where a Machete is Needed
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Offshore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy