Communist China, in a rare move, released some details behind the arrest of a suspected Islamic terrorist who allegedly had more than 100 people under his command in Turkey, reports the South China Morning Post (SCMP), citing state media.
China’s largest and autonomous province of Xinjiang is home to the nation’s predominantly Uyghur minority, which authorities have linked to terrorist groups in neighboring Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as Iraq and Syria, including the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
Although the Chinese government did not release much information about the identity of the suspected Islamic jihadist, he is believed to be a Uyghur, also spelled Uighur, a Turkic people considered part of the larger Turkish family by many Turkish nationals.
Echoing human rights groups, Turkey has accused China of oppressing its Muslim Uyghur minority, a claim that Beijing denies.
Beijing is secretive about its counterterrorism operations on Chinese soil.
The arrest of the alleged jihadists took place back in December 2014, and information is only now beginning to surface.
“When he was in Turkey, he had a team of more than 100 people under his command. He himself was an organizer,” Wu Tengfei, a member of the counterterrorism squad that carried out the arrest, recently told state television.
The Chinese government did not reveal the name or ethnicity of the suspected terrorist. It provided “little information” about the jihadist’s alleged crimes, notes SCMP.
When Chinese authorities detained the man at the end of 2014, many Uyghur Muslims from Xinjiang were leaving China to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Many foreign fighters entered the so-called ISIS caliphate Turkey.
The South China Morning Post reports:
Chinese state media have released rare details about the arrest in an armed raid of a suspected terrorist accused by the authorities of organizing terrorism operations overseas.
The suspect was said to have led over a hundred followers in Turkey, according to Chinese state television.
The man was arrested as part of a special forces operation in Hainan province after a number of wanted suspects were found hiding in the city of Sanya waiting to flee China, the state broadcaster reported late on Sunday.
China has reportedly expressed concern about battled-hardened jihadists returning from Iraq and Syria.
This year, both ISIS and an al-Qaeda affiliate released videos threatening China. The footage featured Uyghurs.
State media has reported that an estimated 300 Uighurs from China have traveled to the Middle East to join ISIS.