(State Department photo)

The Islamic State Stopped Talking About China

In July 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the now-deceased leader of the Islamic State, named China first in a list of 20 countries and regions where “Muslims’ rights are forcibly seized.” Al-Baghdadi specifically cited the “extreme torture and degradation of Muslims in East Turkistan,” the name for the Chinese province of Xinjiang used by Uighur separatists. Over the following three years, the Islamic State continued its outward support for and recruitment of the Uighurs in a string of videoaudio, and print propaganda.

The culmination of Islamic State advocacy for the Uighurs came in a February 2017 video featuring Uighur foreign fighters training in Iraq and pledging to shed Chinese “blood like rivers to avenge the oppressed.” This was the group’s first direct threat toward China, and experts cited it as evidence China had become “very firmly a target of jihadist rhetoric.” Soon after, in June 2017, the Islamic State announced it had executed two Chinese teachers abducted in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province.

Read more at War on the Rocks

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