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'Hundreds of overseas terror websites seeking Chinese recruits', internet watchdog finds

NGO's internet watchdog flooded with 1,500 tips on online terror activity, but only 230 deemed valid

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 5:28pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 5:40pm
 

An internet watchdog received more than 1,500 tips on "terrorist" websites in just over a week, in a further sign of support for the Communist Party’s sweeping crackdown on terror groups and illegal arms.

The China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre (CIIRC) has discovered that some of these foreign websites, in Russian, Arabic and Uygur, were recruiting Chinese citizens to receive terrorist training overseas before they are sent back to China to carry out attacks, according to The Beijing News.

The centre had received the tips from netizens in the week ending on June 29, according to the report. The centre was founded in 2010 by a non-governmental internet society.

On June 20, the centre had begun offering bonuses of up to 100,000 yuan (HK$125,900) for those who report terrorist websites and related activity online. The terms of who can qualify for the reward were not specified, however.

The report said that out of 1,500 tips, 165 were red flags about overseas websites while 65 were reports about domestic ones, which include forums, portals and other online pages.

Of this, there were 230 were valid cases.

It was also unclear which state agency the CIIRC was working with in its anti-terror initiative.

A series of public attacks in recent months, particularly in the restive Xinjiang region, has prompted the government launch a year-long crackdown on terror.

The central government has blamed much of the violence on Xinjiang separatists seeking to form an Islamic state - but rights groups and Uygurs themselves have blamed Beijing's iron policies in the region for the unrest.

China has responded to the recent upsurge of violence in and around the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region by tightening security and cracking down on online-based content that “propagates religious extremism, instigates terrorist attacks, spreads techniques for carrying out terrorism, incites ethnic hatred, and preaches separatism”, according to China.org.cn.

Netizens are encouraged to report websites, forums, blogs, microblogs and a variety of social media platforms inside and outside of China.

The CIIRC, which accepts reports 24/7, encourages people to report illegal activity that infringes “laws and regulations, socialism, the national interest, the legitimate interests of citizens, social public order, morality and information accuracy”.

In a separate incident, a man was rewarded 10,000 yuan for alerting the police yesterday afternoon to a suspicious deal involving flammable material. He witnessed a group of men, who came in two cars and had six to seven barrels of petrol, possible “dealing”.

Police arrested the four men and held them for questioning.

According to previous reports, residents in Xinjiang itself have handed authorities hundreds of tips amid widespread public support for the crackdown.

Counterterrorism officials have received more than 300 tips and detained 60 people as a result, according to Xinhua. More than 160 explosive devices and 40kg of material used to make bombs have been seized, as of June 13.

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