The ETIM: China's Islamic Militants and the Global Terrorist Threat; The Uyghurs: Strangers in Their Own Land.

In This Review

The ETIM: China's Islamic Militants and the Global Terrorist Threat (PSI Guides to Terrorists, Insurgents, and Armed Groups)
by J. Todd Reed,Diana Raschke
Praeger, 2010
244 pp. $49.95
The Uyghurs: Strangers in Their Own Land
by Gardner Bovingdon
Columbia University Press, 2010
304 pp. $45.00

Among the many Uighur organizations that the Chinese government labels as terrorist is one that the U.S. government placed on its own terrorist blacklist after 9/11: the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Some analysts viewed that listing as a grant of U.S. support for Chinese repression in exchange for help in the war on terrorism. The counterterrorism analysts Reed and Raschke review the open-source evidence (much of it from China) that they believe shows ETIM to be a true terrorist force, with an ideology that is both separatist and fundamentalist. They track its changing names, logos, and leaders and locate it in the context of other Uighur militant groups. They make a strong case that although it is small and has not accomplished much, the organization practices terror.

Reed and Raschke's findings do not contradict Bovingdon's broader study of Uighur-Han relations. Based on extensive fieldwork in Xinjiang, it shows how widespread Uighur resentment is rooted in the failure of China's institutions of national autonomy to provide any real self-rule. Most Uighurs practice a moderate form of Islam, are politically unorganized, and have not made any clear political demands. They resent the Hans' colonial-style disrespect of their culture and religion. Bovingdon observed many instances of "everyday resistance" in language, music, and street behavior. The violent incidents in the 1990s, he contends, were mostly small scale and often had local or personal motives. The authorities responded with arrests, imprisonments, and executions. Moscow had already ceased supporting Uighur unrest before the end of the Sino-Soviet dispute, and the Soviet successor states in Central Asia lined up with China as well, since Uighurs are a minority for each of them, as they are for China. When Beijing intensified its repression of the Uighurs after Washington began its antiterrorism campaign, open resistance declined even further. But as the violent protests of July 2009 revealed, the Uighur community is still angry.