Monday, March 10, 2008

Handling of Terror

BBC was the first main stream media to report a Chinese airplane stalled a hijack attempt by Muslim Eastern Turkestan movement. Flight CZ6901from Urumqi to Beijing made an unscheduled landing in Lanzhou after the crew noticed strange behavior of some passengers and found inflammable liquids in the toilet. The plane and passengers stayed in Lanzhou overnight. Two Uygur Muslims were taken in custody. 179 Passengers arrived in Beijing in the morning of Saturday March 8 on the same airplane after 16 hours of delay.

No details had been released by the officials. According to passengers on the same flight, several sealed coca cans containing gasoline were found. Two cans were found open in the toilet. Two Uygur women took the gasoline cans to the toilet on the airplane and opened the cans. They drew suspicion from the crew when occupying the toilet for an extended period of time. Strong smell of gasoline were evident, although the women tried to cover it with even stronger perfume. It's a myth, though why they didn't actually set fire while they locked themselves in the toilet. Playing dumb, the crew announced a mechanical problem with the plane that it needed to land in Lanzhou, a city on the route.

The incident was leaked by messages posted to the Internet by one of the passengers while all the passengers and crew were kept in Lanzhou overnight. the head of the Xinjiang province confirmed the news when asked by reporters on Sunday. Officials and representatives across the nation are gathering in Beijing to attend the annual meeting of the national congress. It is believed that the incident would not be known to the outside if not for the meeting congress factor.

China is not a stranger to Muslim crimes. Many cities, including Beijing had seen bus bombings committed by Eastern Turkestan Muslim Movement, a group push for separation of Xinjiang. However, the Chinese government has been treating the threat mostly as criminal incidents rather than a war on terrorism. Police actions were used in fighting the Muslim criminals. At the same time, media is tightly control to prevent any of such events to receive any publicity. Partially out of disappointment from lack of attention after sacrificing many bombers, the Muslim group by and large stopped the bombing for almost a decade. The confirmed hijacking, along with some unconfirmed rumors is most likely triggered by the world's attention on the summer Olympic to be held in Beijing.

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