The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is a militant, Uyghur organization that advocates the creation of an independent, Islamic state of East Turkestan in the Xinjiang region of China. The founder and leader of the organization was Hasan Mahsum, who was shot and killed by the Pakistani Army on October 2, 2003.
ETIM is considered a terrorist organization by the governments of China, Kazakhstan, and the United States, as well as the United Nations.
The Chinese government blamed ETIM members for several car bomb attacks in Xinjiang in the 1990s, as well as the death of a Chinese diplomat in Kyrgyzstan in 2002, but the group has neither admitted nor denied such accusations.
ETIM has had, and may still has links with Al-Qaeda. In its 2005 report on terrorism, the US State Department said that the group was "linked to al-Qaida and the international jihadist movement" and that Al-Qaeda provided the group with "training and financial assistance". In January, 2002, the Chinese government released a report in which it showed proof that Hasan Mahsum met with Osama bin Laden in 1999 and received promises of money, and that bin Laden sent "scores of terrorists" into China. However, ETIM leader Hasan Mahsum denied such organizational ties and alleged China to exaggerate such claims as a means of enlisting support from the United States.
Uyghur detainees in Guantanamo.
Approximately two dozen Uyghurs were held in extrajudicial detention at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base operated by the United States in Cuba. On March 3, 2006, the US Department of Defense was forced to release the transcripts of detainees who had attended their Combatant Status Review Tribunals. Most of the Uyghur detainees faced allegations that they were tied to the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, Al-Qaeda, or the Taliban. They denied all such ties.
Five of the Uyghur detainees were among the 38 detainees whom the tribunals determined were not "enemy combatants". The United States government did not grant the Uyghurs asylum, but neither would they repatriate them to China, fearing that they would be tortured or executed by the Chinese government.
On 5 May 2006 the five Uyghurs were transported to Albania.