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Re: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher on the Uighurs

5:36 PM, Jun 29, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Editor's note: The following is Thomas Joscelyn's response to this letter from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

Let's be clear about the extreme position Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has taken here: Al Qaeda-trained terrorists pose no threat to the American people. This is obviously a disturbing stance - especially for a sitting congressman.

Now, of course Mr. Rohrabacher pretends that his defense of the Uighurs detained at Gitmo is not a defense of al Qaeda-trained terrorists at all. But it is, for at least two reasons.

First, Mr. Rohrabacher offers no rebuttal to the facts and evidence I cited. This body of evidence conclusively demonstrates that the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM, and now known as the Turkistan Islamic Party, TIP) is an al Qaeda-affiliated organization. This is the position of the United Nations, the United States government, as well as other foreign governments. It should be obvious to any outside observer. Members of the ETIM/TIP have identified themselves as al Qaeda terrorists in their propaganda videos, which are not difficult to find.

It is hard to believe that anyone would argue the ETIM/TIP is not an al Qaeda affiliate when its members openly brandish al Qaeda's black flag while threatening to commit terrorist attacks.

It is also obvious that the Uighurs detained at Gitmo were trained by the ETIM/TIP. At least 8 of the 17 Uighurs who were all, until recently, detained at Gitmo admitted a terrorist named Abdul Haq was the leader of their organization. The Uighur detainees also admitted that Abdul Haq, as well as another ETIM/TIP leader, oversaw their training camp. Abdul Haq is not only the head of the ETIM/TIP, he is also a known al Qaeda terrorist.

There is no mention of Abdul Haq in Congressman Rohrabacher's reply and for good reason. Haq's identity and ties to the Uighur detainees completely undermine his case. Rohrabacher writes, "The oft repeated accusation that the Uighurs held at GITMO were members of the ETIM is patently false." This is flat wrong and Rohrabacher selectively cites the record to "prove" his point. For instance, Rohrabacher cites the Uighur detainees' own denials of any connection to the ETIM/TIP, while ignoring that these same detainees admitted that Abdul Haq - the notorious ETIM/TIP chieftain - was their leader. This renders their denial of any ETIM/TIP connection meaningless.

More after the jump...

Congressman Rohrabacher also argues that "court rulings," such as the Parhat v. Gates decision, vindicate the Uighurs. This is, again, wrong. The Parhat decision contained basic errors. For example, the court - like Rohrabacher - made no mention of Abdul Haq. In addition, a subsequent ruling ordering the release of the Uighurs on American soil was overturned by a higher court because it abused the law. Thus, the court rulings Rohrabacher cites are hardly dispositive.

In sum, there is no material dispute over the ETIM/TIP's ties to al Qaeda or the Uighur detainees' training at ETIM/TIP facilities under the supervision of senior ETIM/TIP leaders. Nothing in Congressman Rohrabacher's reply even begins to challenge these basic facts.

Second, Mr. Rohrabacher offers no real evidence in support of his alternative conspiracy theory - that the ETIM/TIP is somehow a creation of Chinese intelligence. Rohrabacher says the Bush administration only designated the ETIM/TIP as an al Qaeda affiliate in an attempt to curry favor from the Chinese government in 2002, during the run-up to the Iraq war.

What, then, explains the Obama administration's designation of Abdul Haq this year?

The Obama administration is certainly not seeking Chinese approval for any war. But it was the Obama administration's designation that pointed out Abdul Haq is a longtime al Qaeda terrorist as well as a member of al Qaeda's elite Shura council, in addition to being the leader of the ETIM/TIP. Indeed, recent reports confirm that Haq is still involved in the al Qaeda and Taliban-led insurgency in northern Pakistan.