By Benjamin CARLSON
Beijing (AFP) March 1, 2017
Islamic State 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 Monday by a division of the Islamic State in western Iraq and featuring militants from China's Uighur ethnic group, said the US-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 China.
It appears to be the Islamic State's "first direct threat" against China, Dr. Michael Clarke, an expert on Xinjiang at the National Security College of Australian National University, told AFP.
"It is the first time that Uighur-speaking 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 (TIP) in Syria.
China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Wednesday that he had not seen the video but noted that "East Turkestan terrorist forces have been posing a severe threat to China's security," referring to Xinjiang militants.
He called for international cooperation "to combat such terrorist forces."
- Show of force -
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 on the same day China staged the latest in a series of mass rallies by armed police in Xinjiang meant to indicate Chinese resolve in crushing security threats.
More than 10,000 officers gathered Monday in the regional capital Urumqi -- the fourth such show of force this year in Xinjiang.
Chinese authorities also have strengthened controls and anti-terrorist rhetoric.
In one violence-wracked corner of Xinjiang, authorities are offering rewards of up to 5 million yuan ($730,000) to those who expose terror plots or "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.
Clarke said the hints of a Uighur split could "intensify the threat to China" as it indicates Uighur militants may be able to tap into the capabilities of both the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Overseas experts have up to now expressed doubts about the strength of Uighur militants, with some saying China exaggerates the threat to justify tough security.
A US think tank said in July that Chinese religious restrictions on Muslims may have driven more than 100 to join the Islamic State.
Authorities have banned or strictly controlled the observance of certain Muslim practices, such as growing beards, wearing headscarves, and fasting during Ramadan, calling them symbols of "Islamic extremism".
"When we see the government involved in a very heavy crackdown, it hasn't really ever solved the problem, it hasn't made it go away," said Raffaello Pantucci, director of International Security Studies at the UK-based Royal United Services Institute.
"In some cases it has made it worse."
Kunduz, Afghanistan (AFP) Feb 27, 2017
An air strike has killed an Afghan Taliban commander who twice oversaw the capture of a strategic northern city, officials said Monday, in a major blow to the insurgent group. Mullah Abdul Salam Akhund, the Taliban shadow governor in Kunduz province, was killed on Sunday when he was holding a meeting in the volatile Dasht-e-Archi district. "He was killed with five others in the house," s ... read more
News From Across The Stans
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|