I.S. UIGHUR MIL­I­TANTS THREATEN CHINA

Iraqi di­vi­sion of IS is­sues first threat against China in half-hour video

New Straits Times - - World -

IS­LAMIC State (IS) mil­i­tants from China’s Uighur eth­nic mi­nor­ity have vowed to re­turn home and “shed blood like rivers”, ac­cord­ing to a ji­hadist-track­ing firm, in what ex­perts said marked the first IS threat against Chi­nese tar­gets.

The threat came in a half-hour video re­leased on Mon­day by a di­vi­sion of the IS in western Iraq and fea­tur­ing mil­i­tants from China’s Uighur eth­nic group, said the United States-based SITE In­tel­li­gence Group, which an­a­lysed the footage.

China has for years blamed ex­iled Uighur “sep­a­ratists” for a se­ries of vi­o­lent at­tacks in its western Xin­jiang re­gion, the Uighur home­land, and warned of the po­ten­tial for mil­i­tants to link up with global ji­hadist groups.

In the video, a Uighur fighter is­sued the threat against China just be­fore ex­e­cut­ing an al­leged in­for­mant.

“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,” ac­cord­ing to SITE’s trans­la­tion.

A tra­di­tion­ally Mus­lim group, many Uighurs com­plain of cul­tural and re­li­gious re­pres­sion and dis­crim­i­na­tion by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment.

It ap­pears to be IS’s “first di­rect threat” against China, Dr. Michael Clarke, an ex­pert on Xin­jiang at the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Col­lege of Aus­tralian Na­tional Univer­sity said.

“It is the first time that Uighur­s­peak­ing mil­i­tants have claimed al­le­giance to IS,” he added.

The video showed China is now “very firmly a tar­get of ji­hadist rhetoric,” Clarke said, mark­ing a shift from years past when it rarely fig­ured in state­ments by global ji­hadist groups.

But Clarke said it also could in­di­cate a pos­si­ble split among Uighur fight­ers, as it in­cludes a warn­ing to those fight­ing with the al Qaeda-aligned Turk­istan Is­lamic Party in Syria.

China main­tains tight se­cu­rity in Xin­jiang but a drum­beat of deadly un­rest has con­tin­ued. A knife at­tack last month left eight dead, in­clud­ing three at­tack­ers, po­lice said.

The video was re­leased the same day that China held the lat­est in a se­ries of mass ral­lies of mil­i­tary po­lice in Xin­jiang meant to in­di­cate Chi­nese re­solve in crush­ing se­cu­rity threats.

More than 10,000 of­fi­cers gath­ered on Mon­day in the re­gion’s cap­i­tal Urumqi, the fourth such rally this year in Xin­jiang.

Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties have tight­ened con­trols in the re­gion, beef­ing up po­lice check­points.

In one vi­o­lence-wracked cor­ner of Xin­jiang, au­thor­i­ties are of­fer­ing re­wards of up to ¥5 mil­lion yuan (RM3.2 mil­lion) to those who ex­pose ter­ror plots or “strug­gle, kill, wound, or sub­due” any at­tack­ers.

The Is­lamic State video showed fight­ers, in­clud­ing heav­ily armed chil­dren, giv­ing speeches, pray­ing, and killing other “in­for­mants”.

It also fea­tured im­ages of Chi­nese riot po­lice guard­ing mosques, pa­trolling Uighur mar­kets, and ar­rest­ing men in what ap­pears to be western China. The Chi­nese flag is pic­tured en­gulfed in flames.

AFP PIC

Chi­nese mil­i­tary po­lice get­ting off a plane to at­tend an an­titer­ror­ist oath­tak­ing rally in He­tian, Xin­jiang, on Mon­day.

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