Turkestan Islamic Party desires to be a National Liberation Movement after US de-blacklist
On December 4, 2020, the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) on its website, Muhsinlar, issued two statements that were dedicated to its removal from the terrorist list by the US a month ago. The first statement was on behalf of the Central Office of the Turkestan Islamic Party. The second statement was issued on behalf of the TIP’s Syrian branch. Despite the similar content of both statements, each of them should be analyzed separately, since they conceal the motives and goals of the Uighur resistance against the repressive policies of communist China, as well as their views on Islamic jihad in general.
How Uighur Jihadists became a bone of contention between the US and China?
It is worth noting, exactly one month earlier, on November 5, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the removal of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), also known as the Turkestan Islamic Party, from the Terrorist Exclusion List in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). “ETIM was removed from the list because, for more than a decade, there has been no credible evidence that ETIM continues to exist,” a State Department spokesperson said. As is known, ETIM was designated as a terrorist organization by the UN Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1390 on 11 September 2002 for its alleged association with al Qaida, Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. As part of the “global war on terror”, on Aug. 19, 2002, then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage designated ETIM as a terrorist organization in a similar manner. At that time, China skillfully took advantage of the situation after the 9/11 attacks and achieved recognition of ETIM as a terrorist group by many members of the US-led “war on terror”.
Predictably, the Trump Administration’s decision to remove ETIM from the blacklist has provoked a panic reaction from official Beijing, which is pursuing a harsh repressive policy against the Muslim minority in Xinjiang region, detaining more than one million Uighurs, Kazakhs and ethnic Kyrgyz in the so-called “re-education camps”.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry angrily criticized the US for delisting ETIM from its list of terrorist organizations, saying it reflected Washington’s “double standards” on fighting global terrorism. However, the Washington-based Uighur Human Rights Project (UHRP), which is the voice of millions of destitute Uighurs around the world, strongly supported the State Department’s decision calling it “long overdue” and a “definitive rejection of China’s claims”. UHRP also called on the UN “to remove ETIM from its Consolidated List through a formal delisting process.”
The first statement of the TIP’s Central Office
The first statement was made on behalf of the Central Office of Turkestan Islamic Party and is entitled “Appeal to Islamic Ummah and oppressed Muslims of East Turkestan on the occasion of removing our Jamaat from the terrorist list”.
The statement’s authors described the reason for the creation of ETIM as a defensive measure against the tyranny of the “criminal Chinese state”. To make it clearer for readers, we present this entire paragraph: “In our Motherland, East Turkestan, which is a part of the Islamic World, savage atrocities continue by the enemy, the Chinese aggressors. The Chinese Kafirs (infidel) martyred or enslaved Muslims who did not have even a broken iron in their hands. In order to counter this tragic aggression, the Turkestan Islamic Party, led by Hassan Mahsum, formed an armed Islamic Jamaat abroad and set out to take practical action against China. As a result, this Jamaat has been developing sharia, military, political and propaganda activities. The Jamaat acted and is continuing to act this in order to regain their rights in accordance with the will of Allah.”
Then the statement quotes Surah al-Hajj (39) of the Qur’an: “Permission ˹to fight back˺ is ˹hereby˺ granted to those being fought, for they have been wronged. And Allah is truly Most Capable of helping them ˹prevail.”
Further, in its statement, TIP explained the reasons for including the Uighur Salafi-Jihadi group of ETIM on the global terrorist list. According to TIP, this was carried out according to the devious designs of Beijing, which managed to convince the world with false statements “about terrorist acts by the Uighurs.” “In front of our people and the people of the world, the Chinese aggressors tried to present as the terrorist act all our just armed jihad against the Chinese, and in the end, they achieved some results, and under this condition, the East Turkestan Muslims were the victims of misinformation, but this became the reason for the understanding of the world’s peoples about the real face of China”, mentions the statement.
The statement noted the US government’s legitimate actions, which “removed us from the terrorist list, recognizing that they had wrongly put us on the list of terrorists because of fraud by the Chinese side.” “This means that the East Turkestan Muslims’ armed actions against the Chinese aggressors are righteous one from a humanitarian point of view as well”, the statement stated.
The statement underlined the plight of Uighur Muslims in East Turkestan living “under the material and spiritual oppression of the Chinese aggressors.” At the end of the statement, TIP called on Uighur co-religionists around the world “to take part in holy jihad, which frees oppressed people from Chinese tyranny and leads to Islamic freedom, and to support TIP materially and spiritually. At the end of the statement, TIP prayed on Allah Almighty to hasten and succeed in performing the blessed jihad against the Chinese aggressors.
The second statement of the TIP’s Syrian Wing
As we noted above, the Syrian branch of the Turkestan Islamic Party made a separate statement in response to the US government’s decision to remove the ETIM from the global terrorist list. It is worth noting that the content of the two statements and their anti-Chinese ideology are similar. In this regard, we have focused on precisely those thoughts and points in the TIP’s Syrian branch statement that do not echo the previous statement by its parent organization, the TIP’s Central Office.
At the beginning of its statement, the TIP’s Syrian branch noted that following the recent decision by the US government to exclude the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement (i.e., Turkestan Islamic Party) from the terrorist list, they are going to act against China as a representative of the Eastern Turkestan Muslims. The statement says, «in this moment when all the people of Turkestan are happy with that decision by the U.S. government, besides thanking our Lord of Allah, we also thank to all the different states and organizations which contributed to make such a decision».
The statement noted that although Uighurs were included in the terrorist list of America and some other countries due to the trickery of the Chinese aggressors, who are enemies of the whole world, TIP with the help of the great Lord and the support of brothers from all parts of the world, continued to fight against the “Chinese enemies” until today.
The TIP’s Syrian branch further claims that they are not terrorists, but fighters for the future of the oppressed Uighur people. Therefore, the American government, making sure that “we are not terrorists, but fighters against oppression, fighters who demand their own true freedom and all human rights, announced the exclusion of us from the terrorist list.”
In this regard, the TIP’s Syrian branch expressed its pleasure with the decision of the US government and hopes that other countries around the world will make a wise decision like the American government and help the oppressed in Turkestan.
In addition, the authors of the statement called on their Uighur brothers and sisters around the world to stand together as one body against China, the “common enemy” of humanity. “Because the Chinese are not only the enemy of the people of Turkestan but also the common enemy of all states”, the TIP’s Syrian branch believes. Jihadists of East Turkestan noted that if before the Uighurs acted separately, now it is time to unite. The TIP’s subsidiary concluded its statement by citing the Holy Book of Islam, in which Allah says that “the believers are but one brotherhood, so make peace between your brothers” (Surah Al-Hujurat, 10, Quran).
It is unsurprising that the US State Department’s decision to de-blacklist ETIM inspired anti-Chinese rhetoric among Uighur jihadists. After that, the press service of TIP and its radio “Islam Avazi” through the Telegram channel began to give clear signals that the Uighur militant group is not conducting and does not intend to conduct jihad against the West. Abu Omar al-Turkistani, one of the TIP warlords in Syria’s Idlib, said, “We are not hostile to either the US or the West. We are hostile to China, which refused to grant us political rights.”
In this situation, it remains unclear whether the TIP leader Abdul Haq al-Turkestani has anything to do with the above two statements. Because, according to the US Treasury Department, he is a US and UN-designated terrorist and has been a member of al Qaeda’s elite Shura Council since 2005. For many decades, Abdul Haq al-Turkistani has been openly loyal to the Taliban’s top leader Haibatullah Akhunzada and the al Qaeda’s emir Ayman al-Zawahiri. Today, all three top emirs are successfully continuing their faithful fellowship in jihad.
It is, however, not expected that following the US government’s decision, the UN and other countries of the post-Soviet space, including Putin’s Russia, will decide to lift the sanctions from ETIM. Particularly, China’s Central Asian neighbors, most notably Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, which have huge debt to Beijing and highly dependent on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), met the news on Uighur jihadists de-blacklist very cautiously and suspicious. Therefore, they will continue to fully support China’s war against three evils: terrorism, extremism, and separatism within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
High-Altitude Espionage (Spy Balloon) and India’s National Security
Throughout the nineteenth century, balloons were a vital tool for obtaining intelligence. Since then, their value has drastically decreased. In order to spy on the Soviet Union in the 1950s, the United States utilised high-altitude balloons (that the Soviets complained about and subsequently shot them down). The U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance plane, (which was also shot down) and the Corona reconnaissance satellites, (the first of many generations of spy satellites) that many nations utilise today, succeeded in replacing balloons. Now that a Chinese balloon has flown above the United States, serious worries are being expressed.
During the first two weeks of February, the Chinese spy balloon saga that concerned the United States, Canada, and rest of the world seemed to have come to an end. The four balloons, or “high-altitude objects,” as they were officially referred to, were shot down by American fighter aircraft.
Similar to airships, surveillance balloons are equipped with sensors, cameras, or communication equipment to track and gather information. The spy balloons can either be anchored to the ground or can float at a great height, giving them the ability to take extensive pictures of their surroundings. Safety and monitoring, process sensing, climatology, and disaster response are all possible uses for the collected data.
Among the many uses of balloon surveillance equipment by spies are the following:
SIGINT: The intelligence community can use communication signals, such as voice and data transmissions, to intercept and analyse signals intelligence (SIGINT), which enables the collection of information on foreign governments, military forces, and other organisations. SIGINT is typically collected using balloons fitted with specialised sensors and equipment.
GEOINT: Spy Balloons collect geospatial information (GEOINT) in order to create detailed maps and photographs of the ground and track changes over time.
HUMINT: Balloons can be used to acquire human intelligence (HUMINT) to keep an eye on people, groups, and activities on the ground.
ELINT: Balloons enable the intelligence community to intercept and analyse signals from foreign military and other electronic equipment to learn more about their capabilities and intentions. This is known as electronic intelligence (ELINT).
Balloons were employed during the Cold War for psychological operations, or PSYOP, to drop pamphlets or books. In the 1950s, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) deployed millions of hot air balloons off West Germany’s coast to drift through the Iron Wall with their prized cargo, George Orwell’s book Animal Farm (1945).
The usage of balloons for espionage operations and surveillance is not hidden from the world. Today, China adopted the earlier existing technology of balloons in its advanced version to fulfil its own intelligence needs. According to sources, US intelligence authorities think the recently discovered Chinese spy balloon is part of a vast surveillance operation managed by the Chinese military.
Such practices of China and the balloon system leaves an important question on India’s national security. A similar balloon like the one in America was sighted in January 2022 over the Andaman Nicobar tri-service command by the Indian forces last year. “But soon it flew off. These advances sparked conversations about some rethinking of the tactics to counter emerging dangers like spy balloons, ” said by former DG of DRDO. Even if such a balloon isn’t armed, it can gather private information about vital infrastructure, such as the activities of the armed troops near the border, in the islands, or anywhere else on the mainland, and test India’s capacity to recognise aerial surveillance gadgets.
China’s stance on the balloons were that it was a weather balloons, however the high resolution cameras could serve for the purpose of stationary Surveillance. Spy balloons, however, are difficult to shoot down. Elevated targets are inaccessible to anti-aircraft guns that are mounted on the ground. The fired bullets from the ground may cause casualties or injuries. Only a small number of fighter jets have the ability to launch an air-to-air missile from a height of 20 km which could quite expensive. Spy Balloons might make it easier for China’s military to collect electromagnetic emissions that reveal a weapon system’s capabilities when compared to using sophisticated satellite systems positioned at higher altitudes.
India has to improve its intelligence and counterintelligence capabilities in light of the latest incident. Sino-Indian ties are already fraught with uncertainty, so failing to recognise and address new dangers, especially those in the grey area, would have serious consequences. New Delhi needs to improve its technological proficiency and work with nations that share its interests.
Data collection today has become a very important part of a state’s strategies. Being unaware of such actions in its own backyard would have negative effects on India, given the tensions between the two countries. Although, advancement of the technology has led to blurring of the geographical border lines India needs to be rigorously vigilant to such espionage attempts especially near its borders and critical infrastructure.
Maritime Cybersecurity: A Potential Threat to India’s National Security
India has a huge coastline of 7516.6km comprising 13 major ports (including one private port) and more than 200 minor ports across the coastline. It is a very known fact that the maritime sector is very crucial for India’s security, stability, economy, and sustainable development. India conducts around 70 percent of its total trade by value through the sea. India is strategically placed in the Indian Ocean, which gives it greater access to trade with the world’s major shipping routes. India’s seaborne trade has grown at a rate that is twice the 3.3% rate experienced globally. India is now focusing on strengthening its maritime sector through the upgradation of safety and security standards at the ports, enhancing port capacity and operations, and automation. It is placing emphasis on automation and technology upgradation through projects like SAGAR and Sagarmala. With digitalization in place in almost all the port operations and in the surveillance of the maritime waters, as shown in figure 1, the maritime domain is vulnerable to cyber threats ashore and afloat.
Figure.1 Technology in the Maritime Sector
With Information and Communication Technology (ICT) coming into use, increasing reliance on seaways, and the growing importance of the data as a weapon in the hands of the state, all these pave the need for better cybersecurity management systems in the maritime sector.
The maritime business, its ships, and its cyber environment are all protected by a variety of tools, policies, security concepts, safeguards, guidelines, risk management techniques, actions, training, best practices, assurance, and technologies.
Maritime cyber risk can be referred to as the extent to which the technology in use could be attacked, that could result in the loss or compromise of information.
Pirates and opposing nations have been a menace to the maritime transportation business for thousands of years, but as the sector has developed and technology has been more thoroughly integrated for enhanced efficiency, so too has the magnitude of possible cyber threats. Now, even using something as simple as a USB flash drive, or even an unsecured Wi-Fi, the hacker can get access to the critical systems of the vessel, thereby obstructing the entire port operations. For example, a suspected ransomware attack on the Management Information System (MIS) crippled the operations of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Mumbai, in 2017 and again in 2022.
Though the primary motive behind cyber threats is profiteering, there are several aspects that motivate a cybercriminal to conduct a cyberattack on the port or vessel operations. This includes espionage, activism, terrorism, warfare, and others.
The various kinds of cyberattacks on the maritime sector involves malware, trojans, botnets, advanced persistent threats, ghost shipping attack, cryptocurrency hijacking, and other. In addition to these cyber threats, the maritime domain is vulnerable to cyber terrorism as well. The awareness in the maritime sector over cyber terrorism is very minimal or negligible, with very little emphasis given to it. Chinese cyber activity is a major security threat to India. China is also using cyber technology in its South China Sea Anti–Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) strategy. The A2/AD strategy denies freedom of movement and navigation to rival powers by increasing defense systems that threaten their ships/submarines.
The technologies like the Automatic Identification System (AIS), ECDIS, GPS, information systems, Industrial Control Systems, and other operational technologies have played a crucial role in enhancing the efficiency of port and vessel operations. Nevertheless, these technologies are of no exemption to cyberattacks as every technology comes up with its own loopholes. For example, the adoption of AIS is compulsory for any vessel to ensure its safe navigation, but as it is unencrypted and unauthenticated, the maritime sector is vulnerable to spoofing, water holing, social engineering, and other cyberattacks. It is also important to identify the human role in operating such technologies, as it is noted that human error and equipment flaws are primary reasons behind the success of these cyberattacks.
Maintaining the integrity of supporting systems, protecting ship systems from physical assault, and making the maritime sector resilient to both internal and external threats are all critical. Protection from various cyberattacks is necessary to prevent a breach of the network and its systems. Proper countermeasures and in-depth defense strategies must be deployed for each attack to prevent an attack from taking advantage of a flaw or vulnerability in the technology.
Primarily, it is important to promote awareness among the staff or the crew to identify cyber threats and on responding to such threats and, for example, alerting the officials if any malicious or unusual mail or notification is identified in the system.
Block chain technology can be an efficient solution as it allows for a continuous monitoring system and provides real-time status on the ship’s security. It also enables secure communication and storage of data in the control centers. It helps in avoiding loss of data and data modifications by unauthorized users.
The AIS and GNSS systems must adopt encryption and authentication measures which are given zero attention to this date.
With the vast coastline, it is not possible for India to secure the coastline through manpower. Israel based startups, in order to effortlessly secure the maritime IoT ecosystem, Cydome Security offers a cyber solution to handle this precise problem. The company’s solution is intended for systems with links to coastal infrastructure as well as guidance, sensors, control, and command.
Fighting fire with fire is one way that organizations can aid in stopping such intrusions: AI-driven security systems can successfully foresee and thwart AI-driven threats in real-time with appropriate data.
It is crucial to note right away that there is no magic solution for marine cybersecurity. An interconnected era has been retrofitted with a history of outdated shipboard equipment, leading to a shattered and vulnerable maritime environment.
It is in India’s interest to take a leading role in negotiations and developments with global countries, given its crucial position in the Indian Ocean Region and the need to protect itself against China’s growing threat in that region. In order to take shipping on to the next level of connectedness, strong cybersecurity is imperative.
CIA’s Supremacy in Global Spy Ring and Hammering Russian Intelligence Since Cold War
I Doubt Therefore I Survive”- Michael Richard Daniell Foot, British Intelligence Historian.
Since world war US always had upper hand in conducting sub/ unconventional warfare especially Covert Psyops, Americans have always heavily invested in sinister designs- the famous MKultra progaramme of using high psychotic drugs- LSD to psychologically weaken Human’s mental state and force confessions out of them. Also, Its aim was to develop mind-controlling drugs for use against the Soviet bloc. The project attempted to produce a perfect truth drug for interrogating suspected Soviet spies during the Cold War, and to explore other possibilities of mind control. CIA’s Subversion techniques and plans into the Soviet’s camp and other communist camps are also one of the greatest security headache for Soviets. The problem was that Soviets espionage/ Intelligence temperament was not that ruthless, hard and developed as CIA’s. Eventually, this became a reason of how and why US’s psychological operations substantially harmed Russian/Soviets’ influence too much. If we leave Vietnam, the scores of US in espionage circles, activities of de-installing regimes and squeezing Soviets sphere of influence and even now squeezing Russia’s sphere of influence are much higher than of Russia. Further, this also becomes a strong reason why Russians were not able to swiftly retort to these activities in a fashion in which US does or the tit for tat temperament was not proactively seen from the Russian or Soviet’s side. In other words, they struggled to match and register covert successes in countering US’s influence in substantial sense. A story of one of the greatest female speies and phenomenal covert operations led by US and west which set the stage rolling for “espionage” in global politics.
We mostly idealize male as spies, because of their endurance and the tradition or culture of talking only about male spies, the amount of glorification/popularization which a male spy gets is somewhere reduced to less when the story of female spy comes in. Though the mindset is now changing and people are now equally focusing on both the cases, However, it has been observed that stories of female spies are still struggling to get glorified or talked about in some parts of the world. The tides changed their directions when a female spy- Virginia Hall, regarded as one of the greatest female spy whose contribution led to Allied Forces Victory in World War-II. In America she is regarded as one of America’s greatest heroes.
She was born on 6th April 1906 in Maryland, attended Roland Park country school, later for her higher studies she went to Barnard College(Columbia University) where she learned French, Italian and German and later moved to Geroge Washington University to peruse Economics. Virginia Hall’s life was filled with roller coaster rides with dramatic twists and turns. She had a dream to become the first female Ambassador of the United States. She even started to work towards her dream by taking up the job of a clerk at the consular office in Warsaw Poland and later in Turkey. She didn’t know that a major setback is still waiting for her. In an accident she lost her left leg, However, this accident didn’t slow down Hall’s dream, She was firm and determined to achieve her dreams and serve for her country.
Making of A Spy
Later, She applied for Foreign Services and her application in the foreign services was turned down because of disability and her gender(Females were rarely hired at that time). Repeatedly her applications were turned down over and over. However as usual her determination and refusal to comprise with her dreams were fueling/ not letting her dreams die. Later she moved to France for employment, where During World War-II in February 1940 (the early period of war) she become an ambulance driver for France Army, after the defeat of French she again moved to Spain for employment where she accidentally met British Intelligence Official name Geroge Bellows. Bellows got amazed by her communication and thinking skills and gave her the number of a “friend” who was working in Special Operations Executive(SOE), United Kingdom secret operations unit in World War-II. After getting in touch with “friend” she joined the SOE in April 1941.
The First Job
She gets the training in SOE and sent to France by France Section of SOE. She was given a cover of a reporter/ journalist for New York Post which enabled her to interview people, gather information from surroundings which can be useful for intelligence/ military officials of Allied Forces. Gradually she became an expert and learned how to arrange contacts, logistics, and who to bribe to get information and get the required work done. She also learned how to distribute and supervise wireless sets among agents and the network of SOE. Despite the French occupation by the Germans, she managed a long tenure as a spy-transmitting information to London about German which highlights her operational brilliance and. She also sensed danger and refused to attend a meeting of SOE Agents and later French Police raided the meeting place and SOE agents got arrested.
The Journey with Americas
After successfully planning an escape of the SOE agents from jail, when Hall returned, she was declined to serve in France because she and SOE networks were almost compromised, and sending her again would be too much risk. After this, Hall got in the contact with OSS(predecessor of CIA) and joined American Intelligence at the low rank. She was sent to France again by OSS. This time she was given a cover of poor peasant women, she used to roam around the various places and often changed her disguise to a milkmaid and prepared Cheese and sold cheese to German Soldiers. Hall was tasked to prepare resistance force known as Maquis and set up Anti- Nazi The environment in France, which would help Allied Forces during Invasion. Hall continued to gather information about German Soldier’ locations and finance Maquis and help to set up resistance force which later helped Allied Forces in planning effective Invasions- Operation Jedburgh. No doubt with an artificial leg, she ruled the helm of Spy Networks, and in those times when females were rarely hired for jobs. German described her as “Most Dangerous Allied Spy” She successfully established Anti Nazi resistance which eventually led to the collapse of the Nazi and victory of Allied Forces, It was Hall with whom help Allied Forces were victories over the Axis Powers effectively. Hall broke all the stereotypes in the spying network who believe that Females are not that smart witted to survive in the Intelligence Word. She was awarded Distinguished Service Cross in 1945 and earlier she was also awarded prestigious British Medal. Later She becomes the first female to work in CIA, she was given desk jobs in CIA and due to her age she couldn’t perform well in the tests which were mandatory in CIA and after a brief period of time she resigned and took retirement at the age of 60. She lived with her husband Paul Barnesville, Maryland, until her death in 1982. She always refused to talk/write about her World War-II or in-field experience which led to the curiosity of many. The way she believed in her instincts, intuition, and with the brilliant skill set despite one leg has made her one of the greatest spies of all time.
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