OE Watch Commentary: The Pakistan-based anti-Chinese militant group, Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), has issued a quarterly Arabic-language online magazine called Islamic Turkistan since 2009. The elaborate magazine is likely intended to raise money and generate sympathy from Arab funders, as the people whom the TIP claims to represent, the Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang, China, generally do not read Arabic. The magazine features articles about Xinjiang’s history, the “crimes” of the Chinese Communist Party against Uighurs, Uighur “martyrs” who have been killed fighting the U.S. in Afghanistan and Pakistan or fighting China in Xinjiang, and stories about successful TIP attacks against the Chinese in Xinjiang.
The TIP is a separate group from the defunct East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), whose two founding leaders, Hasan Mehsum and Abdul Haq, were killed in a Pakistan army raid in 2003 and a reported U.S. drone strike in 2010, respectively. Another reported U.S. drone strike in May 2012 also killed the TIP leader and al-Qaeda leader for Pakistan’s Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Abdul Shakoor al-Turkistani, along with 17 Pakistani Taliban militants, while they were training in North Waziristan’s Shawal Valley.
China has alleged since late 2012 that Uighur militants in the TIP are being funneled into Syria by a Uighur group in Turkey to fight Bashar al-Assad’s forces. If China’s allegations are true, it would support China’s claims that the TIP is not a Xinjiang separatist group like ETIM, but rather that it is part of the broader jihadist movement. On 18 February 2013 the twelfth edition of Islamic Turkistan was posted on online forums, addressing China’s allegations in article called “Uighurs Fighting in Syria.” The TIP said that although China did not provide evidence that Uighurs are fighting in Syria, “even if a few Uighurs went there, they were representing themselves only.” The article also highlighted that “China always stood with evil and tyranny in Egypt, Libya and Syria against the poor people.”
A separate article, “The Truth Has Its Banner and the Tyrants Have Their Soldiers,” however, seemed to indicate the TIP was sending fighters to Syria, when it said, “How can we not aid and support [the fighters in Syria] while we see the injustice that is happening to them with our own eyes?” and “We have to let our people in Syria know that we are with them and that we have the same burdens and goals, which is raising and elevating the banner and the word of Allah.” While there is still no confirmation whether Uighurs are fighting in Syria, this edition of Islamic Turkistan shows the TIP’s efforts to solicit support from Arab funders by framing the TIP’s cause in Xinjiang as aligned with the Arab societies that opposed Libya’s Qaddafi, Egypt’s Mubarak, and now Syria’s al-Assad. End OE Watch Commentary (Zenn)
Note: An English-language article from China’s Global Times alleging that Uighur militants are fighting in Syria can be accessed at: (http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/740936.shtml):