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PacNet #8A – Al Qaeda’s China Problem

Al Qaeda has a China problem, and no one is watching. Despite al Qaeda’s significant efforts to support Muslim insurgents in China, the Chinese government has succeeded in limiting popular support for anti-government violence. The latest evidence came on Jan. 5, when China raided an alleged terrorist facility in the country’s Xinjiang region, near borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. According to reports, 18 terrorists were killed and 17 were captured, along with 22 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and material for thousands more. Chinese reportage on terrorism is notoriously problematic, at times imprecise, or simply fabricated. For the skeptics, photos of the policeman killed in the raid were also released, showing emotional relatives amid a sea of People’s Armed Police paying their final respects. Ironically, China’s ability to successfully kill or capture militants without social blowback demonstrates the significant degree to which China has won the population’s “hearts and minds,” however begrudgingly.