Chinese flight avoids … toilet bomb

posted at 12:55 pm on March 9, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

China may have averted its own 9/11, albeit on a more modest scale and a much more modest modus operandi. Flight crew and passengers of China Southern overpowered would-be suicide terrorists on a flight from Urumqi, who had planned to create an “air disaster”. It involved brewing something explosive in the toilet:

China foiled a bid to cause an air disaster on a passenger jet en route to Beijing and the plane made a safe emergency landing, an official said on Sunday, in what state media called an attempted terrorist attack.

The China Southern flight originated in Urumqi, capital of the restive far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where militant Uighurs have agitated for an independent “East Turkestan”.

It landed in the northwestern city of Lanzhou on Friday after the crew discovered and foiled the attempt to “cause an air disaster”, Xinjiang Governor Nuer Baikeli told reporters on the sidelines of the annual session of parliament. …

The source, who requested anonymity, said inflammable material was found in the plane’s toilet.

The Chinese have their own issues with radical Islamists. Uighers comprise a significant part of al-Qaeda’s efforts in nearby Afghanistan, and their training and work in Pakistan aims eventually to conduct the same kind of “liberation” that the Taliban conducted against the Soviets in Afghanistan. They believe they can free the Muslim lands from Beijing through jihad, and this mission will not be the last to start a war.

Of course, the timing is rather obvious. Beijing will hold the Olympics this summer, and what better time for the Uighers to hold a violent uprising in Xinjiang? Conversely, it gives China a great opportunity and excuse to round up anyone with real or perceived connections to Islamist terrorists. The Uighers may find out that having terrorist allies will make life a lot more difficult in 2008, as Beijing will not risk humiliation on a global stage during the Games.

The expansion of the jihad could have other repercussions. So far, China has acted to block Western efforts to fight radical Islamists, and certainly has run interference for their greatest state sponsor, Iran. If the jihadists turn their sights onto China in any significant manner, Beijing may have little choice but to reconsider their relationship to the mullahcracy.


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…Inflammable material was found in the plane’s toilet.

That sounds more nasty than dangerous.

John on March 9, 2008 at 1:03 PM

This is obviously George W. Bush’s fault.

Weebork on March 9, 2008 at 1:05 PM

Sources say a Taco Bell bean burrito and a can of Miller Draft were located in the restroom.

gozips on March 9, 2008 at 1:12 PM

Do you think the people detained are praying that they would be sent to Gitmo instead?

Techie on March 9, 2008 at 1:15 PM

China may also choose to really fight the terrorist in a way we’re afraid to do.

If China is any barometer to to the future, they’ll show no mercy.

Kini on March 9, 2008 at 1:20 PM

Do you think the people detained are praying that they would be sent to Gitmo instead?

Techie on March 9, 2008 at 1:15 PM

I think people living in China period are praying to be sent to Gitmo.

Grayson on March 9, 2008 at 1:21 PM

The timing is convenient, since it justifies Beijing’s harsh repression of any dissent. It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that this was some sort of drama staged by Chinese intelligence. It could have been a real terror plot, but we’d be naive to take Beijing’s word for it.

To adapt a phrase once used to describe the Iran-Iraq war: “China vs. the Islamists. Too bad they both can’t lose.”

irishspy on March 9, 2008 at 1:27 PM

Something will happen at the Olympics, guaranteed.

THE CHOSEN ONE on March 9, 2008 at 1:29 PM

I don’t understand why China cannot see past it’s energy interests and understand coddling Iran et. al. is a more serious long term threat to their security/sovereignty.

BryanS on March 9, 2008 at 1:38 PM

Must have been to Grandma’s on sloppy joe night. (Borrowed from Larry the Cable Guy.)

davidk on March 9, 2008 at 1:43 PM

Hoping and praying nothing happens at the Olympics except handing out medals.

Limerick on March 9, 2008 at 1:54 PM

China may also choose to really fight the terrorist in a way we’re afraid to do.

This is a great point. China doesn’t put up with nearly the same crap that the US/EU does, nor do they care much about the political repercussions of their actions. Why terrorists would even consider attacking China is beyond me.

InDubly on March 9, 2008 at 2:12 PM

For anyone who’s been there, the question becomes what’s worse: having your plane blown apart or being forced to land in Lanzhou?

KGB on March 9, 2008 at 2:20 PM

This gives new meaning to “General Cho’s Exploding Chicken”

Mike D. on March 9, 2008 at 2:32 PM

It wasn’t really terrorists, just some kids with a cherry bomb.

Frozen Tex on March 9, 2008 at 2:40 PM

Hoping and praying nothing happens at the Olympics except handing out medals.

Limerick on March 9, 2008 at 1:54 PM

Uhh What? F that, I want to see Fallen Gong stage some serious protests. This is a great opportunity for the people of China to speak their horrors to the world. Organ stealing, executions of religious leaders, environmental destruction, all need to be exposed to the world. The Olympics suck anyway.zzzzzzzzzzzz

THE CHOSEN ONE on March 9, 2008 at 2:43 PM

I don’t understand why China cannot see past it’s energy interests and understand coddling Iran et. al. is a more serious long term threat to their security/sovereignty.

BryanS on March 9, 2008 at 1:38 PM

The Uighar threat is not especially serious for the PRC. Communist China has the largest army in the world and a billion and a half people, most of whom are slaves to the state, as opposed to a few million peasant uighars. The Chinese are already pursuing the same policy as they did in Tibet: i.e. swamp the population of the province with Han Chinese and send the local troublemakers to the gulag. Funny that we don’t hear much whining from liberals about the Chinese approach to Islamists!

The PRC still views the USA as a much more serious rival than the Islamists, hence their policy towards Iran uses the realpolitik doctrine of the lesser of two evils.

Pax americana on March 9, 2008 at 3:03 PM

THE CHOSEN ONE on March 9, 2008 at 2:43 PM

Whatever you say boss.

Limerick on March 9, 2008 at 3:07 PM

Funny that we don’t hear much whining from liberals about the Chinese approach to Islamists!

The PRC still views the USA as a much more serious rival than the Islamists, hence their policy towards Iran uses the realpolitik doctrine of the lesser of two evils.

Pax americana on March 9, 2008 at 3:03 PM

Your argument explains a lot about Chinese behavior. Perhaps they need their own version of 911 to be shocked into action. I guess a corollary of your argument would be:

The Chinese and the Islamists are not much of a threat for the liberals. The liberals have all of the soft power of Europe, the American Left, NGOs, and the media around the world at their disposal. The liberals are pursuing in Iraq and the GWO the same policy as they did in Vietnam: swamp the population with news about American failures in order to sew despair about the chances of success.

Liberals still view the USA as a much more serious threat than the Islamists, hence their political agenda uses the realpolitik doctrine of the lesser of two evil.

BryanS on March 9, 2008 at 3:20 PM

So, it’s OK to joke about Islam blowing up airliners if they are Chinese?

BL@KBIRD on March 9, 2008 at 3:23 PM

Liberals still view the USA as a much more serious threat than the Islamists, hence their political agenda uses the realpolitik doctrine of the lesser of two evil.

BryanS on March 9, 2008 at 3:20 PM

Indeed I would agree with this interpretation. The psychology of the anti-American left is interesting, since it seems to be based on a kind of self-loathing psychosis. Many of these people derive a kind of mascochistic pleasure from denouncing their own culture and history: it relieves their feelings of guilt and poor self-image. Of course, it is a very dangerous kind of delusion, because by biting off the hand that feeds them we less able to protect ourselves from malign forces.

The Chinese probably will need some variety of a 911 attack to make them reassess their security priorities. But I wouldn’t bank on anything on that scale happening soon. The Islamists know that the USA is a much more courageous enemy, which is capable of defeating them ideologically as well as militarily. Furthermore, as Robert Spencer has so notably been demonstrating, there is a fourteen-hundred year history of fighting Christendom that they can draw upon, whereas Chinese interests have never much conflicted with Islam before now. It was their neighbors to the north – the Mongols – who came closest to destroying Islam in the 13th century.

Pax americana on March 9, 2008 at 3:36 PM

I hope this doesn’t mean that airplane toilets will now be off-limits during flight.

Bigfoot on March 9, 2008 at 3:56 PM

If there’s something really positive the Chinese could do, it’s to cancel their one-child law and allow for parents to have as many as they want. If they want to combat Islam properly, they’re going to need a stable society with a good gender balance.

Put an end to Chinese communism already.

Avi Green on March 9, 2008 at 4:19 PM

“So far, China has acted to block Western efforts to fight radical Islamists, and certainly has run interference for their greatest state sponsor, Iran.”

No good deed, right………..?

Seven Percent Solution on March 9, 2008 at 4:23 PM

So, it’s OK to joke about Islam blowing up airliners if they are Chinese?

BL@KBIRD on March 9, 2008 at 3:23 PM

When the plots are thwarted, no one gets hurt and it involves blowing up toilets (or shoe-bombs), yes.

Canadian Infidel on March 9, 2008 at 4:30 PM

If anyone had told me, a few years ago, that I’d be taking sides with Russia against Chechnya, with Serbia against Bosnia, and with China against the Uighurs, I’d have been indignant. But here we are. The enemy of my enemy isn’t my friend, but the enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy.

Kralizec on March 9, 2008 at 5:38 PM

So, it’s OK to joke about Islam blowing up airliners if they are Chinese?

BL@KBIRD on March 9, 2008 at 3:23 PM

When the plots are thwarted, no one gets hurt and it involves blowing up toilets (or shoe-bombs), yes.

Canadian Infidel on March 9, 2008 at 4:30 PM

Make whatever rules you want for yourselves, but I’ll stick to laughing whenever I think something’s funny, and joking whenever I think someone will laugh with me.

Kralizec on March 9, 2008 at 5:40 PM

“Anyone want to bet these guys would give anything to be going to Gitmo instead of wherever it is they are going to wind up now?”

Anyone seen that exhibit of human cadavers called “Bodies”? That’s right, it’s from China………………

Seven Percent Solution on March 9, 2008 at 6:16 PM

Kralizec on March 9, 2008 at 5:40 PM

Amen. Too many stiffs here, we can always use cheap laughs.

THE CHOSEN ONE on March 9, 2008 at 6:28 PM

Avi Green on March 9, 2008 at 4:19 PM

I disagree. An excess of male children means they have a whole army of “second sons” to send off to war if needs be. It worked for the Conquistadors.

aengus on March 9, 2008 at 6:50 PM

So, it’s OK to joke about Islam blowing up airliners if they are Chinese?

BL@KBIRD on March 9, 2008 at 3:23 PM

If you’re Mark Steyn its not only okay but a kind of vindication (He who laughs last laughs loudest) to joke about the destruction of Britain.

aengus on March 9, 2008 at 6:53 PM

Anyone who has to have permission to laugh is pathetic. The PC cudgel being hefted by a Progressive … again.

I’m remembering reading a brief little blurb right after 9/11 that China wouldn’t even allow anyone with an Arab name to book a rservation into their country, let alone trying to scan boarding crowds specifically for terrorists. I never saw anything else about that, so I don’t know if it’s true or not. I didn’t realize the Chinese had their own homegrown nutsoid fanatics to deal with.

NahnCee on March 9, 2008 at 7:04 PM

For BODIES Merchandise > Click Here

shibumiglass on March 9, 2008 at 7:12 PM

KGB on March 9, 2008 at 2:20 PM

Exactly.

Pax americana on March 9, 2008 at 3:03 PM

I also agree with this interpretation. However, having been to Xinjiang, and been among the Uighers, I can tell you that these are not Osama’s henchmen. They are Muslim, yes, but they also would not generally be accepted in the radical circles. They mix customs. I saw them burning money to their ancestors (like the Han Chinese do). I don’t think Uncle Osama would look kindly on it. From what I saw of the Uighers, they are very hospitable, very resourceful people.

They are a people who want their freedom. They see the Han as invaders, and they want their country back. I think the US sort of sold them down the river in 2001. Before that time, we viewed them favorably, but after 9-11 we were looking for allies, and agreed with Beijing to declare the separatist movement “a terrorist organization.”

Are their Islamic Radicals there? Yes. They are growing in number as the people become more frustrated with the increasing number of Han, and the tighter restrictions from Beijing. But my point is that the Uighers in general are not of this ilk.

This incident is very sad to me because I think Beijing will have one of their common knee-jerk reactions and many good Uighers will suffer for it. If this really was an Islamic attack on Beijing, then I understand and tacitly support Beijing in their efforts to protect citizens, but I fear they will use this as an excuse for much more….

p40tiger on March 9, 2008 at 9:21 PM

Incidentally, if you go back in their history, the Uigher people were once Christian, until Islam came in and converted those who would convert, and killed those who would not.

p40tiger on March 9, 2008 at 9:24 PM

Umm,that would make a smokin-hot beday!OUCH.

canopfor on March 9, 2008 at 9:26 PM

p40tiger on March 9, 2008 at 9:21 PM

I agree. Is there any reason to oppose their independence, besides the fact that they’re Muslim? (This is not a reason for me.) I thought we conservatives were for local rule, decentralization and self-determination.

Tzetzes on March 9, 2008 at 11:18 PM

Words are important. Maybe the reporter really was highlighting that the material in the toilet was inflammatory material, nor inflammable substance.

Maybe someone tried to flush their little “Red Book” or a picture of Chairman Mao and the words inflammatory and inflammable got confused.

MSGTAS on March 10, 2008 at 9:49 AM

I would just like to note one thing that alternatively makes me laugh/boils my blood.

When it’s a story about Israel foiling a terrorist plot, the “news” stories all begin with “Israel claims to have foiled a plot…”

When the story is about murderous, commie dictators foiling a plot, it’s written as fact.

In a just world, it would be exactly the opposite. The first thing I think when Russia or China talk about nabbing terrorists is, “What did those people do to tick off their commie overlords?”

Veeshir on March 10, 2008 at 12:51 PM