Beijing, London – ISIS militants from China’s Uighur ethnic minority have made an unprecedented threat against China, in a video that was posted on various extremist websites.
The militants, currently in Iraq, vowed to return home and “shed blood like rivers”, in what experts said marked the first ISIS threat against Chinese targets.
According to AFP, the threat came in a half-hour video released Monday by a division of ISIS in western Iraq and featuring militants from China’s Uighur ethnic group, said the US-based SITE Intelligence Group.
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.
Many Uighurs complain of cultural and religious repression and discrimination by China.
In 2015, the Chinese Ministry of State Security said that more than 100 Uighurs headed to Turkey, Syria, or Iraq to join the ranks of extremists. A US think tank said in July that Chinese religious restrictions on Muslims may have driven them to join ISIS.
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.