Vowing to plant their flag in China and that blood will “flow in rivers”, a new video released this week purportedly by the Islamic State group shows ethnic Uighur fighters training in Iraq, underscoring what Beijing sees as a serious threat.
China is worried that Uighurs, a mostly Muslim people from western China’s Xinjiang region, have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for militant groups there, having travelled illegally via Southeast Asia and Turkey. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killing of a Chinese hostage in 2015, demonstrating China’s concern about Uighurs it says are fighting in the Middle East.
The Iraqi arm of Islamic State has released a half-hour long video purportedly showing Uighurs training, as well as some images from inside Xinjiang, including Chinese police on the streets. One shot that shows Chinese President Xi Jinping gives way to flames in front of a Chinese flag.
“Hey, brothers! Today, we are fighting with infidels across the world! I’m telling you this, ‘Come and live here! Stay strong!’,” one of the fighters says, according to Uighur speakers who analysed the video for Reuters but who asked not to be identified.
“We will certainly plant our flag over America, China, Russia, and all the infidels of the world,” it says.
In another scene, a chant in Uighur says: “Our land of sharia has been constructed with spilt blood.” It then shows pictures of martyrs indicated as “al-Turkista ni”, or men from Turkestan, the name many Uighurs use for Xinjiang. One of the men speaking has an accent from Yarkand, close to the old Silk Road city of Kashgar in Xinjiang’s southern Uighur heartland, one of the people who reviewed the video said.
Another fighter refers to the “evil Chinese Communist infidel lackeys”. “In retaliation for the tears that flow from the eyes of the oppressed, we will make your blood flow in rivers, by the will of God!” he says.
Moments before executing an alleged informant, one fighter issues the group’s first direct threat to China. According to a translation from the SITE intelligence group, he said:
“Oh, you Chinese who do not understand what people say! We are the soldiers of the Caliphate, and we will come to you to clarify to you with the tongues of our weapons, to shed blood like rivers and avenging the oppressed.”
The video was released this week by the US-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant groups online.
Professor Dru Gladney from Pomona College said the persecution and mistreatment of the Uighur group by China’s regime is “driving them into the arms of ISIS”.
“The violence could be stemmed from desperation as there is almost no hope in the Uighur community anymore,” he told SunOnline. “Increasing numbers of the Uighur are turning to ISIS for support.So you could say China’s repressive regime is driving the Uighur into the arms of the jihadis. Saying this, the ISIS message of global jihad is contrary to the Uighur group’s nationalist cause.”
The Professor of Anthropology highlighted the increasing number of attacks in China, saying: “There’s terrorism in China, no doubt about it.”
Chilling ISIS propaganda footage shows child soldiers from China’s Muslim Uighur ethnic group