Al-Qaeda declared solidarity with Chinese Uighur jihadi members of its affiliate, the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), amid Beijing’s ongoing oppression of its Muslim minority in Xinjiang province, the Long War Journal (LWJ) reported this week.
In a statement posted in April on the encrypted Telegram messaging app, al-Qaeda stressed its ongoing affiliation with TIP in the face of oppression from “pagan” China.
The international terrorist group – responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks – called on Muslims to support their Uighur [or Uyghur] allies in the region.
“We urge Muslims in general, and the scholars and studied ones and financiers in particular, to stand with you and with the Eastern Turkistan issue,” the group declared.
Muslims and scholars should “support them financially with whatever they can, including collecting donations and charity” for “the mujahidin in Turkistan,” it added.
Uighur Muslim-majority Xinjiang borders the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, which the Pentagon believes to be home to the highest concentration of terrorist groups in the world, including Chinese jihadis affiliated with the Taliban and its al-Qaeda-linked TIP group.
China faces an Islamic terrorist threat from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Al-Qaeda’s general command solidarity statement, issued this month, reportedly came in response to a mid-March message from Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, the long-time TIP chief, who believes Beijing’s persecution of Muslims has not received enough attention.
LWJ, a component of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), reported:
Abdul Haq decried China’s occupation of the territory commonly known as Xinjiang, claiming that it hasn’t received the attention such oppression deserves. He also called upon the head of the Taliban, the leader of al Qaeda, as well as several high-profile al Qaeda ideologues to offer additional ideological support for the Uighur cause. Some of the men he addressed have now responded — including al Qaeda’s management team.
Responding to the TIP chief in the statement posted on the Telegram messaging app, al-Qaeda declared:
Verily, in the completion of faith we must support our oppressed, believing brothers in Turkistan, and we stand with our just and righteous companions in the Turkistan Islamic Party, under the leadership of the Mujahid Sheikh Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, may Allah support him.
The terrorist group went on to say that it is “letting it be known to our glorious brothers that we still stand with you, and our issue is your issue.”
Al-Qaeda praised the Uighur TIP jihadis for their “steadfastness in Afghanistan and China,” noting that they have “refused to accept anything other than governance according to Islamic law.”
Acknowledging China’s “oppression and torture” of Muslims in Xinjiang, al-Qaeda professed its “solidarity” with those suffering through the oppression, adding that the terrorist group will “stand alongside you as brothers.”
Turkey, one of the only countries to speak out against China’s mistreatment of Uighurs, has long expressed sympathy towards the Chinese Muslims, who share cultural and linguistic ties to other Turkic ethnic groups.
Beijing has repeatedly denied United States and United Nations assertions that it is imprisoning hundreds of thousands of mainly Uighur Muslim minorities in re-education camps, where they face systemic torture, disappearances, executions, and arbitrary detentions all to erase their religious identity in favor of the inherently atheist Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The overwhelming majority of Muslims imprisoned or otherwise oppressed by the Chinese government have nothing to do with the TIP or al Qaeda.
But it is likely that various al Qaeda-affiliated groups and individuals will continue to draw attention to the Uighurs’ plight in the coming months. As in other countries, the jihadists seek to use China’s anti-Muslim policies as part of their recruitment efforts, hoping that more disaffected individuals will join their cause.
China claimed the hundreds of facilities in Xinjiang, also known as mind-transformation centers, are vocational and educational centers aimed at combatting terrorism and religious extremism in the region.