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US turns back wheel of history with ETIM whitewash

By An Sheng (Chinadaily.com.cn)    17:14, December 03, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Photo/Xinhua)

On Nov 6, the US Federal Register website published a decision by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to openly revoke the designation of the "East Turkestan Islamic Movement" as a terrorist organization, which caused a public outcry. As we all know, the ETIM is a terrorist organization that has perpetrated a large number of separatist and violent incidents in and outside China, causing huge casualties and property losses. It is a global public enemy that has been listed in the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council. Combating the ETIM is the consensus of the member states of the United Nations. As a victim of terrorism and co-sponsor of the ETIM's listing in the UN 1267 Committee, the United States has flip-flopped on the designation of ETIM as a terrorist organization and gone further to whitewash its crimes, once again exposing the US government's double standards on counter-terrorism and its repulsive practice of condoning terrorist groups as it sees fit.

In response to a reporter's question on why the US withdrew its designation of the ETIM, a US State Department spokesperson claimed there has been no credible evidence of the ETIM's continued existence for more than a decade.

Is the ETIM really no longer active? In recent years, the ETIM was still operating in places such as Afghanistan and Syria, spreading violent ideas under the cloak of religion, releasing disturbing audio and video through the internet, sharing methods of committing terrorist attacks, and inciting, planning and implementing a series of terrorist incidents, posing serious threats to the security and stability of China and other countries and regions. The cases in China have been directly related to the audio and video released by the ETIM. In 2016, members of the ETIM and other terrorist groups jointly carried out a car bomb attack on the Chinese Embassy in Kyrgyzstan. How could the US turn a blind eye to these ironclad facts?

Has the US forgotten that it had struck the ETIM itself in recent years? In 2009, the US Treasury Department announced financial sanctions against Abdul Haq, leader of the ETIM, as it provided support to Al-Qaeda. "Abdul Haq attempted to conduct terrorist attacks during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and today we must stand with the world in condemning this barbaric act of terrorism and isolating him in the international financial system," said Stuart Levey, the Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. In 2010, a CIA-operated drone launched a missile strike on a car in Pakistan's North Waziristan region, killing several ETIM militants. In 2018, the US-led NATO coalition attacked a training camp for ETIM militants in northern Afghanistan, believing it had carried out attacks inside and outside China, and two members of the group were also linked to a planned terrorist attack on the US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan in 2002.

I believe this is not because the US government is "forgetful". The reasons behind this are self-evident. With the concerted efforts of the international community, major international terrorist organizations have been broken up. In recent years, there have been no large-scale terrorist attacks in the United States, but terrorism is still a major threat that cannot be ignored by the international community. Today, the US unilaterally denies the nature of the ETIM as a terrorist organization, which is a typical practice of bending the rules as it sees fit. In fact, the US treats terrorism as tools for containing other countries, and its true motive of "containing China" is plain to see.

In fact, the United States is not only capricious on the issue of the designation of the ETIM, it also adopts double standards in other countries. It immediately identifies acts, individuals or entities that threaten its own security as terrorism. But it has plenty of excuses for those terrorist organizations or individuals that threaten its rivals and unfriendly countries. More than that, it secretly communicates with them and even openly defends them under the pretext of "democracy" and "human rights".

Many media reported the United States has taken a conniving attitude toward the terrorist Posada Carriles, who had participated in the bombing of the Cuban civil aviation airliner, the bombing of a tourist hotel in Havana and an assassination attempt on the country's late leader Fidel Castro. Although he was smuggled into the United States in 2005 and applied for political asylum, the US denied knowing his whereabouts.

Russia has repeatedly exposed and criticized the NGO "White Helmets" as a terrorist organization formed by militants, engaging in acts such as filming fictitious news, abusing aid and organ trafficking. Although reports have shown the "White Helmets" had kidnapped 44 children for the transportation of chemical weapons and fabricated, directed and performed the video "Hospital After Attacked by Chemical Weapons" in Douma, which was used to frame Syrian government forces for launching a chemical weapon to attack the civilians, the US still turned a deaf ear, vigorously supporting the "White Helmets" and giving them $4.5 million under the Trump administration. How does the US government define terrorists and partners? The standard is completely self-serving. Terrorist organizations, as long as they are useful for geopolitical goals, will be supported and treated as useful tools for the United States.

US anti-terrorism logic fully embodies its own hypocrisy. The United States has long been unpopular in dealing with counter-terrorism issues with a major-power rivalry mindset, and its hegemonic behavior has attracted widespread criticism. Terrorism is terrorism. All forms and manifestations of terrorism should be criticized and combated by the international community. Whitewashing terrorism is tantamount to playing with fire, and those who play with fire will get burned. I advise the United States not to stand on the opposite side of international justice and fairness, and not to turn back the wheel of history.

The author is an observer on international issues.

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(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Du Mingming)

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