GUANGZHOU: Chinese police have arrested seven suspects for making explosives and planning to detonate them to cause turmoil in a “shadow army” farce.
The case dates back to March when police in south China’s Guangdong Province received online tip-offs of a person trying to start a “shadow army” via social-networking platforms in order to carry out sabotage activities, police said.
Ensuing investigations identified the person as 41-year-old Xiang Fengxuan, who had been in jail for five years for theft and had “far greater political ambitions” than the laundry service he opened after his jail time.
According to the police, Xiang claimed that he planned to overthrow the current system through armed rebellion to walk the path of a “democratic constitution” and attempted to recruit those who agreed with his idea in various online chat groups by promising free accommodations and high positions after he became “president.”
Among the recruited was Ma Ji, 65, who told Xinhua in an exclusive interview that he could have been “a blue blood descendant from the Qing Dynasty and longed for the imperial past when men had multiple wives and mistresses.”
Ma went from Shanghai to Xiang’s laundry service in Guangzhou and was tasked with recruiting more members using online fortune-telling and by threatening that people could only alter their bad fate by joining.
The group also handed out or sold nearly 4,000 illegal pamphlets to expand their influence under the guise of literature magazines.
Each of the seven skeleton members arrested had different “specialties,” ranging from fortune-telling and explosives to law, but they were mostly not satisfied with their own lives and marriages and had criminal records, police said.
By the time of arrest, the group was already making explosives and planned to kidnap rich people and fund their activities with ransom, before eventually triggering explosions in the public.
Zhang Liumao, the explosive expert in the group, stole a large batch of chemical materials and equipment from the factory where he had worked and was in the process of experimenting and making TNT.
When police raided Zhang’s house, explosive remains, hand- written instructions for making explosives and detonators were found in the toilet.
Chemical experts later described Zhang’s bomb construction methods as “exceptional.”
Following the seven arrests and the confiscation of more than 50 kilograms of explosives and raw materials in August in a single raid, police seized another 14 suspects related to the plan, “basically eliminating the group’s potential harm,” police said.
Zhang claimed to have nasopharyngeal cancer as a result of long-term exposure to chemicals when he was arrested and police confirmed the disease after a health check.
Under medical supervision, Zhang showed no symptoms during detention until Oct. 11, when he started nose bleeding and was sent to a hospital.
According to police, Zhang died on Nov. 4 of a massive hemorrhage.
“Back then I only thought of money and making my child’s life better, but I never thought of the harm those explosives would have when they were used on the public... I regret it so much,” Zhang had told Xinhua. — China Daily / Asia News Network