Islamic State militants have issued their first threat against China
In a half-hour video released Monday, ISIS fighters, members of China’s Muslim Uighur minority, who primarily reside in Xinjiang Province, threatened to return home and “shed blood like rivers,” reports the Agence-France Presse, citing the SITE Intelligence Group.
“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 avenge the oppressed,” an ISIS militant declared before brutally executing an informant.
The man was executed in the presence of children. The video also reportedly showed children executing spies.
The video was released by a militant division in western Iraq and shows life in East Turkestan. China has long warned that Uighur separatists affiliated with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement pose a growing threat and could join up with larger global terror networks.
Some outside observers suggest that China’s discriminatory policies against the Uighur minority are driving members into the arms of the extremists.
No matter the reason, China appears to have become a target of ISIS jihadis.
The video showed the Chinese flag in flames.
“It is the first time that Uighur-speaking militants have claimed allegiance to [ISIS],” Michael Clarke, an expert on the restless Xinjiang at the National Security College of Australian National University told reporters, adding that the video represents the “first direct threat” ISIS has issued against China.
China is stepping up pressure in Xinjiang by launching an “all-out offensive” on terrorism.
Ten thousand armed Chinese police marched through Urumqi, Xinjiang on Monday in a show of force. “We will bury the corpses of terrorists and terror gangs in the vast sea of the people’s war,” explained Xinjiang’s Communist Party secretary Chen Quanguo.
Hundreds of people have perished in violent attacks in Xinjiang in recent years.
Three knife-wielding separatists killed five people in Xinjiang in February, and towards the end of December, four terrorists set off a bomb at a government office, killing one and injuring several others.
One of the worst incidents occurred several years ago at a train station in Kunming. Militants from Xinjiang used machetes to cut down more than 30 people. Over one hundred people were hurt in the attack.
China’s foreign ministry commented on the threats from ISIS Wednesday. “East Turkestan terrorist forces have been posing a severe threat to China’s security,” said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang, who called for international cooperation to “combat terrorist forces.”
At first glance, China may seem like a strange target for the Islamic terrorist group. It has no real military footprint in the Middle East, and while Beijing is getting more involved in the region’s energy business, it’s not involved in the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition in Iraq and Syria. But experts say China entered the terrorist group’s crosshairs over its treatment of ethnic minority Muslims, the Uighurs, who are concentrated in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang.
Beijing is taking an increasingly hard line against unrest there. On Monday, thousands of police — backed by helicopters and armored vehicles — staged a mass rally, the fourth this year, as a show of force, Reuters reported. A Xinjiang Communist Party official pulled no punches as 1,500 cops were dispatched to problematic cities.
“Bury the corpses of terrorists and terror gangs in the vast sea of the people’s war,” Reuters reported the official saying.
Amnesty International slammed the Chinese government for its past crackdowns on the group, including repressing religious ceremonies and jailing Uighurs. China’s “anti-Islamic policies have pushed some even moderate Muslims to radical outlets,” said Dru Gladney, an expert on western China at Pomona College.
A 2016 study from New America, a Washington-based think tank, found 114 Uighurs from Xinjiang joined the Islamic State. Xinjiang furnished the highest number of foreign ISIS fighters from any one province of the world outside of Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, the study found.
The video could garner ISIS more publicity in western China and spark inspiration for new attacks, Gladney told Foreign Policy. But he cautioned it didn’t necessarily mean the Islamic State would begin directly coordinating terrorist assaults in China.
Ethnic Uighurs have carried out terrorist attacks already, including a May 2014 attack in the Xinjiang region’s capital of Urumqi that killed 43 and wounded 90. But for the most part, Uighur extremists carry out attacks on a much smaller and less coordinated scale. That likely won’t change, despite newfound ISIS-backing, Gladney said.
But the Chinese government’s heavy-handed tactics to root out extremism, including military mobilizations and violent repression, could backfire and fuel the rise of more extremism, he added. “They have been trying to swat flies with baseball bats,” he said.
we predicted this years ago..china can play the terror game like everyone else..
“experts say China entered the terrorist group’s crosshairs over its treatment of ethnic minority Muslims, the Uighurs, who are concentrated in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang.”
all roads lead to xinjiang..