Friday, June 09, 2006

Intelligence Items: US Terror Alert, Japan Elections


Friday's United States embassy warning of possible terrorist attacks against Americans in China was based on intelligence reports about foreign and indigenous Muslim extremist activity, according to some Israeli and American analysts. These experts say Al Qaeda terrorists have successfully infiltrated the restive, predominantly Muslim Xinjiang region and linked up with local Uighur separatist cells in order to plan attacks against American tourists and companies operating in China. An embassy statement said the US government has received unconfirmed information of possible threats, especially in Beijing--which has a few Uighur neighborhoods--and Shanghai and Guangzhou. Places where Americans congregate, such as clubs, restaurants, schools or outdoor recreation events, could be targets. The warning made no mention of Muslim extremism or Al Qaeda. Since 9/11, the US has disputed Chinese assertions of Uighur-Qaeda connections as attempts to justify repressive treatment of the local population in the name of fighting terrorism....

The Chinese government views Japan's upcoming elections the way most middle class and rich Peruvians looked at last Sunday's second and final round of their presidential elections--as "a choice between cancer and AIDS," in the words of one Lima resident. Peruvians had to choose between former president Alan Garcia and ultranationalist former army officer and failed coup plotter Ollanta Humala. Though he ruined Peru the first time he was in office, social democrat Garcia was at least regarded as reasonably rational. In contrast, Humala, a populist demagogue and protege of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, was widely seen as a wannabe tropical Mussolini. China's Communist Party rulers see Japan's foreign minister Taro Aso and chief cabinet secretary Shinzo Abe (whose photo appears above) as foreign policy hardliners, though Aso is generally considered more hawkish toward Beijing. Both men are expected to run to succeed Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi when his term ends in September; but Aso on Friday became the first candidate to publicly announce his intention to run. Japan's governing Liberal Democratic Party will vote internally for the next prime minister; and the race is expected to be closely contested.

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