Xinjiang conflict

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This article is about recent unrest and fighting in Xinjiang. For the uprisings and battles in Xinjiang during the 1930s and 1940s, see Xinjiang Wars.
Xinjiang conflict
Xinjiang in China (de-facto).svg
Xinjiang region in China
Date 1960s – present
(55 years)
Location Xinjiang, China
Status Ongoing

People's Republic of China

Supported by:
Soviet Union Soviet Union (1969–1989)
Mongolia Mongolian People's Republic (1960–1989)

Turkistan Islamic Party
ETLO (2000–2003)
Supported by:
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan[3]
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan[4]
Islamic Jihad Union[5]
Ülkü Ocakları Eğitim ve Kültür Vakfı Logosu.png Grey Wolves[7][8]

HizbTahrir logo main.jpgHizb ut-Tahrir[9][10][11][12]
Commanders and leaders
Xi Jinping (2012-present)
Mao Zedong (1945–1976)
Deng Xiaoping (1981–1987)
Jiang Zemin (1989–2002)
Hu Jintao (2002–2012)
Yusupbek Mukhlisi (1969–1989) Abdullah Mansour[13]
Hasan Mahsum  
Abdul Haq  
Abdul Shakoor al-Turkistani  
Casualties and losses
800 killed (since 2009)[14]

The Xinjiang conflict[15] is an ongoing[16] separatist conflict in China's far-west province of Xinjiang, whose northern region is known as Dzungaria and whose southern region (the Tarim Basin) is known as East Turkestan.[17] Uyghur separatists and independence movements claim that the region is not a part of China, but that the Second East Turkestan Republic was illegally incorporated by the PRC in 1949 and has since been under Chinese occupation. The East Turkestan independence movement is led by Turkic Islamist militant organizations, most notably the Turkistan Islamic Party (formerly the East Turkestan Islamic Movement), against the government in Beijing.


The area known as Xinjiang had been a protectorate of China as early as 60 BC during the Han dynasty when it was part of the Protectorate of the Western Regions and also a protectorate of Tang dynasty China when it was part of the Protectorate General to Pacify the West, though there are numerous periods of independence from China. The historical area of what is modern day Xinjiang consisted of the distinct areas of the Tarim Basin and Dzungaria, and was originally populated by Indo-European Tocharian and Iranic Saka peoples who practiced the Buddhist religion. The area was subjected to Turkification and Islamification at the hands of invading Turkic Muslims during the Islamicisation and Turkicisation of Xinjiang. In the 18th century the Qing Dynasty reorganized the territory as a province, Xinjiang.[18]

Previous uprisings[edit]

The Xinjiang Wars were a series of armed conflicts which took place in the early and mid 20th century, during the Warlord Era of the Republic of China; and during the Chinese Civil War, which saw the establishment of the People's Republic of China. The wars also played an important role in the East Turkestan independence movement.

After the establishment of the Soviet Union, many Uyghurs who studied in Soviet Central Asia added Russian suffixes to Russify their surnames and make them look Russian.[19] Urban Uyghurs sometimes select Russian names when naming their children, in cities such as Qaramay and Urumqi.[20]

The Soviet Union supported the Uyghur Second East Turkestan Republic in the Ili Rebellion against the Republic of China. Many of the Turkic peoples of the Ili region of Xinjiang had close cultural, political, and economic ties with the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union. Many of them were educated in the Soviet Union and a community of Russian settlers lived in the region. As a result, many of the Turkic rebels fled to the Soviet Union and obtained Soviet assistance in creating the Sinkiang Turkic People's Liberation Committee (STPNLC) in 1943 to revolt against Kuomintang rule during the Ili Rebellion.[21] The pro-Soviet Uyghur who later became leader of the revolt and the Second East Turkestan Republic, Ehmetjan Qasim, was Soviet educated and described as "Stalin's man" and as a "communist-minded progressive".[22]

According to her autobiography, Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China, the Uyghur activist Rebiya Kadeer's father served with pro-Soviet Uyghur rebels under the Second East Turkestan Republic in the Ili Rebellion (Three Province Rebellion) in 1944–1946, using Soviet assistance and aid to fight the Republic of China government under Chiang Kai-shek.[23] Kadeer and her family were close friends with White Russian exiles living in Xinjiang and Kadeer recalled that many Uyghurs thought Russian culture was "more advanced" than that of the Uyghurs and they "respected" the Russians a lot.[24]

Immediate causes[edit]

Main article: Migration to Xinjiang

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch speculate that Uyghur resentment towards repression of Uyghur culture may explain some of the ethnic riots that have occurred in Xinjiang during the People's Republic of China (PRC) period.[citation needed]

Conversely, some Han Chinese opponents of the movement are unhappy at being, in their perspective, treated as second-class citizens by PRC policies, in which many of the ethnic autonomy policies are discriminatory against them[25] (see Affirmative action in China and Autonomous entities of China). Some[who?] go so far as to posit that since previous Chinese dynasties owned Xinjiang before the Uyghur Empire, the region belongs to them as opposed to the Uyghurs. Supporters of the movement, on the other hand, have labelled Chinese rule in Xinjiang, as Chinese imperialism.[citation needed]

Uyghur nationalist historians such as Turghun Almas claim that Uyghurs were distinct and independent from Chinese for 6000 years, and that all non-Uyghur peoples are non-indigenous immigrants to Xinjiang.[26] However, the Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) established military colonies (tuntian) and protectorates (duhufu 都护府) to control Xinjiang from 120 BCE, while the Tang Dynasty (618-907) also controlled much of Xinjiang until the An Lushan rebellion.[27] Chinese historians refute Uyghur nationalist claims by pointing out the 2000-year history of Han settlement in Xinjiang, documenting the history of Mongol, Kazakh, Uzbek, Manchu, Hui, Xibo indigenes in Xinjiang, and by emphasizing the relatively late "westward migration" of the Huigu (equated with "Uyghur" by the PRC government) people from Mongolia the 9th century.[26] The name "Uyghur" was associated with a Buddhist people in the Tarim Basin in the 9th century, but completely disappeared by the 15th century, until it was revived by the Soviet Union in the 20th century.[28]

Uyghur nationalists often incorrectly claim that 5% of Xinjiang's population in 1949 was Han, and that the other 95% was Uyghur, erasing the presence of Kazakhs, Huis, Mongols, |Xibes and others, and ignoring the fact that Hans were around one third of Xinjiang's population in 1800, during the time of the Qing Dynasty.[29] Uyghur separatist activist Rebiya Kadeer claims Urumqi is "Uyghur land".[30] The name Urumqi came from the Dzungar Oirat language. Professor of Chinese and Central Asian History at Georgetown University, James A. Millward wrote that foreigners often mistakenly think that Urumqi was originally a Uyghur city and that the Chinese destroyed its Uyghur character and culture, however, Urumqi was founded as a Chinese city by Han and Hui (Tungans), and it is the Uyghurs who are new to the city.[31][32] While a few people try to give a misportrayal of the historical Qing situation in light of the contemporary situation in Xinjiang with Han migration, and claim that the Qing settlements and state farms were an anti-Uyghur plot to replace them in their land, Professor James A. Millward pointed out that the Qing agricultural colonies in reality had nothing to do with Uyghur and their land, since the Qing banned settlement of Han in the Uyghur Tarim Basin and in fact directed the Han settlers instead to settle in the non-Uyghur Dzungaria and the new city of Urumqi, so that the state farms which were settled with 155,000 Han Chinese from 1760 to 1830 were all in Dzungaria and Urumqi, where there was only an insignificant amount of Uyghurs, instead of the Tarim Basin oases.[33] Han and Hui mostly live in northern Xinjiang (Dzungaria), and are separated from areas of historical Uyghur dominance south of the Tian Shan mountains (the Tarim Basin in southwestern Xinjiang), where Uyghurs account for about 90% of the population.[34]

At the start of the 19th century, 40 years after the Qing reconquest, there were around 155,000 Han and Hui Chinese in northern Xinjiang and somewhat more than twice that number of Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang.[35] A census of Xinjiang under Qing rule in the early 19th century tabulated ethnic shares of the population as 30% Han and 60% Turkic, while it dramatically shifted to 6% Han and 75% Uyghur in the 1953 census, however a situation similar to the Qing era-demographics with a large number of Han has been restored as of 2000 with 40.57% Han and 45.21% Uyghur.[36] Professor Stanley W. Toops noted that today's demographic situation is similar to that of the early Qing period in Xinjiang. In northern Xinjiang, the Qing brought in Han, Hui, Uyghur, Xibe, and Kazakh colonists after they exterminated the Zunghar Oirat Mongols in the region, with one third of Xinjiang's total population consisting of Hui and Han in the northern are, while around two thirds were Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang's Tarim Basin.[37] Before 1831, only a few hundred Chinese merchants lived in southern Xinjiang oases (Tarim Basin) and only a few Uyghurs lived in northern Xinjiang (Dzungaria).[38]

Critics have argued that the government's response to Uyghur concerns do little to address the underlying causes of their discontent.[39]

Uyghur views by oasis[edit]

Uyghur views vary by the oasis they live in. China has historically favored Turpan and Hami. Uyghurs in Turfan and Hami and their leaders like Emin Khoja allied with the Qing against Uyghurs in Altishahr. During the Qing dynasty, China enfeoffed the rulers of Turpan and Hami (Kumul) as autonomous princes, while the rest of the Uyghurs in Altishahr (the Tarim Basin) were ruled by Begs.[40] Uyghurs from Turpan and Hami were appointed by China as officials to rule over Uyghurs in the Tarim Basin. Turpan is more economically prosperous and views China more positively than the rebellious Kashgar, which is the most anti-China oasis. Uyghurs in Turpan are treated leniently and favourably by China with regards to religious policies, while Kashgar is subjected to controls by the government.[41][42] In Turpan and Hami, religion is viewed more positively by China than religion in Kashgar and Khotan in southern Xinjiang.[43] Both Uyghur and Han Communist officials in Turpan turn a blind eye to the law and allow religious Islamic education for Uyghur children.[44][45] Celebrating at religious functions and going on Hajj to Mecca is encouraged by the Chinese government, for Uyghur members of the Communist party. From 1979 to 1989, 350 mosques were built in Turpan.[46] Han, Hui, and the Chinese government are viewed much more positively by Uyghurs specifically in Turpan, with the government providing better economic, religious, and political treatment for them.[47] There were 20,000 mosques representing a 5.8 times of increase in total in Xinjiang in 1989.[48] Until separatist disturbances flared in 1996, China was lenient and allowed people to ignore the rule prohibiting government officials from observing religion.[49] New, big mosques have been financially assisted in being built by the Chinese government in Urumqi.[50] While in southern Xinjiang China implements strong rules regarding religion, in Urumqi, China treats the Uyghurs and religion lax and permissively.[51]


In Xinjiang, Communist Party members and civil servants who are employees of the government are not allowed to participate in religious activities while ordinary private citizens are allowed to practice religion and fast in Ramadan, students in public government directed schools are discouraged from participating in religious activities but not banned from doing so, the policy pertains to all religions- members of the Communist party are not allowed to carry out Daoist practices like Feng Shui.[52]

Manchu, Daur, Tartar, Tajik, Xibo, Uzbeks, Russians, Kirgiz, Hui, Mongols, Kazakhs, Han, and Uyghur make up the ethniciites in Xinjiang, the Uyghur population has grown along with the Kazakh, there were 1.3 million Kazakhs and 8.4 million Uyghurs in 2001, a increase from 900,000 Kazakhs and 6 million Uyghurs in 1982, which was an increase from 500,000 Kazakhs and 4 million Uyghurs in the 1960s, there was been a declining death rate for child birth and diseases have been checked by advanced medical care, helping Xinjiang's population growth, and China does not strictly apply birth control to the area.[53] There have been attempts to restrict the Uyghur birth rate and increase the Han fertility rate in some areas of Xinjiang, in order to counteract Uyghur separatism.[54]

There was a 1.7 growth in the Uyghur population in Xinjiang while there was a 4.4% growth from 1940-1982 in the Hui population in Xinjiang. Uyghur Muslims and Hui Muslims have experienced a growth in major tensions against each other due to the Hui population surging in its growth. Some old Uyghurs in Kashgar remember that the Hui army at the Battle of Kashgar (1934) massacred 2,000 to 8,000 Uyghurs, which caused tension as more Hui moved into Kashgar from other parts of China.[55] Some Hui criticize Uyghur separatism, Dru C. Gladney said the Hui “don't tend to get too involved in international Islamic conflict, They don't want to be branded as radical Muslims."[56][57] Hui and Uyghur live separately, attending different mosques.[58] Han and Hui intermarry with each other much more than Hui do with Uyghurs, despite Hui and Uyghur both being Muslim, and according to Uyghurs, Hui marriages with Uyghur frequently break apart and end in divorce.[59] Xibe people hold negative stereotypes of Uyghurs and tend to be against Uyghurs and group themselves with Han people isntead.[60]

"Protect religion, Kill the Han and destroy the Hui".(Bǎohù zōngjiào, shā hàn miè huí; 保護宗教,殺漢滅回), is a Uyghur proverb.[61][62]

The suppression of the Uyghurs has more to do with the fact that they are separatist, rather than Muslim. China banned a book titled "Xing Fengsu" ("Sexual Customs") which insulted Islam and placed its authors under arrest in 1989 after protests in Lanzhou and Beijing by Chinese Hui Muslims, during which the Chinese police provided protection to the Hui Muslim protestors, and the Chinese government organized public burnings of the book.[63][64][65][66][67][68][69][70][71][72] The Chinese government assisted them and gave into their demands because Hui do not have a separatist movement, unlike the Uyghurs,[73] Hui Muslim protestors who violently rioted by vandalizing property during the protests against the book were let off by the Chinese government and went unpunished while Uyghur protestors were imprisoned.[74]

Although religious education for children is officially forbidden by law in China, the Communist party allows Hui Muslims to violate this law and have their children educated in religion and attend Mosques while the law is enforced on Uyghurs. After secondary education is completed, China then allows Hui students who are willing to embark on religious studies under an Imam.[75] China does not enforce the law against children attending Mosques on non-Uyghurs in areas outside of Xinjiang.[76][77] Since the 1980s Islamic private schools have been supported and permitted by the Chinese government among Muslim areas, only specifically excluding Xinjiang from allowing these schools because of separatist sentiment there.[78]

Hui Muslims who are employed by the state are allowed to fast during Ramadan unlike Uyghurs in the same positions, the amount of Hui going on Hajj is expanding, and Hui women are allowed to wear veils, while Uyghur women are discouraged from wearing them.[79]

Different Muslim ethnic groups in different regions are treated differently by the Chinese government in regards to religious freedom. Religious freedom is present for Hui Muslims, who can practice their religion, build Mosques, and have their children attend Mosques, while more controls are placed specifically on Uyghurs in Xinjiang.[80]

Hui religious schools are allowed and a massive autonomous network of mosques and schools run by a Hui Sufi leader was formed with the approval of the Chinese government even as he admitted to attending an event where Bin Laden spoke.[81][82]

"The Diplomat" reported on the fact that while Uyghur's religious activities are curtailed, Hui Muslims are granted widespread religious freedom and that therefore the policy of the Chinese government towards Uyghurs in Xinjiang is not directed against Islam, but rather aggressively stamping out the Uyghur separatist threat.[83]

The Uyghur terrorist organization Turkistan Islamic Party's magazine Islamic Turkistan has accused the Chinese "Muslim Brotherhood" (the Yihewani) of being responsible for the moderation of Hui Muslims and the lack of Hui joining terrorist jihadist groups in addition to blaming other things for the lack of Hui Jihadists, such as the fact that for more than 300 years Hui and Uyghurs have been enemies of each other, no separatist Islamist organizations among the Hui, the fact that the Hui view China as their home, and the fact that the "infidel Chinese" language is the language of the Hui.[84][85]

Even among Hui Salafis and Uyghur Salafis, there is little coordination or cooperation and the two take totally different political agendas, with the Hui Salafists content to carry out their own teachings and remain politically neutral.[86]


The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party, Organization for Freeing Eastern Turkistan, and the Islamic Party of Turkistan were outlawed by Kyrgyzstan's Lenin District Court and its Supreme Court in November 2003.[12][87]

In 2006 the Turkistan Islamic Party was outlawed by Moscow (Russia).[88]

Arab countries politically supported China in the OIC with especially Saudi Arabia and Egypt helping China squash any potential anti-Chinese motion by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on the Uyghurs, Egypt viewed its own internal sectarian problems like China's and Sudan was also concerned about external interference in its internal problems as well, while Indonesia had to deal with its own internal Islamists and emphasized that there was no religious conflict but instead ethnic based disturbances in Xinjiang to calm the situation down.[89] Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt helped China kill off a statement on the Xinjiang situation in the OIC.[90] There has been no public reaction by the Arab League, Saudi Arabia and Iran on the situation and China has built stronger relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia due to their influence in the Islamic world.[91]

Malaysia deported Uyghurs back to China at China's request and ignored calls to halt the deportation.[92][93][94][95][96][97]

Pakistan outlawed the Islamic Jihad Union, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement in 2013.[5]

The United Arab Emirates declared the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (Turkistan Islamic Party) as a terrorist organization in 2014.[98][99][100][101]

Rebiya Kadeer claimed that Turkey is hampered from interfering with Uyghurs because it recognizes that its own Kurdish issue may get interfered with by China in retaliation.[102] An appeal for Chinese products to be boycotted by Nihat Ergun failed in 2009.[103]

Infighting between Uyghur separatists[edit]

Anwar Yusuf Turani set up the "East Turkistan Government in Exile".[104]

Rebiya Kadeer accused the East Turkistan government in exile of being agents of China.[30]


Early events[edit]

The modern phase of the conflict in Xinjiang is generally seen as beginning in the late 1950s and early 60s, around the time Xinjiang officially became an autonomous region of China in 1955.[16]

Soviet support for Uyghur uprisings[edit]

Main article: Sino-Soviet split

The Soviet Union supported various separatist activities in Xinjiang, by encouraging Kazakhs and Uyghurs to flee to the Soviet Union and launch attacks into Chinese territory. China responded by reinforcing the Sino-Soviet border around Xinjiang with Han Bingtuan militia and farmers.[105] The Soviet Union intensified their support in 1967, doubling their Uyghur language broadcasts, and broadcasting Radio Tashkent, which encouraged Uyghurs to revolt against the Chinese. Separatist fighters were harbored by the Soviets, and it is estimated that 5,000 soldiers launched attacks on China via the Sino-Soviet border in 1966.[106][107] On 14 May 1967, the Soviet Union openly admitted to supporting the Second East Turkestan Republic against China.[108] In addition to Radio Tashkent, other Soviet media outlets aimed at sending propaganda towards Uyghurs, urging that they proclaim independence and revolt against China, included Radio Alma-Ata and the Alma-Ata published Sherki Türkistan Evazi ("The Voice of Eastern Turkestan") newspaper.[109] After the Sino-Soviet split in 1962, over 60,000 Uyghurs and Kazakhs defected from Xinjiang to the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, in response to Soviet propaganda which promised Xinjiang independence. Uyghur exiles later threatened China with rumors of a Uyghur "liberation army" in the thousands that were supposedly recruited from defected pro-Soviet emigres.[110]

The Soviet Union was involved in funding and supporting the East Turkestan People's Revolutionary Party (ETPRP), the largest militant Uyghur separatist organization during its era, to start a violent uprising against China in 1968.[111][112][113][114][114] In the 1970s, the Soviets also supported the United Revolutionary Front of East Turkestan (URFET) to fight against the Chinese.[115]

"Bloody incidents" in 1966-67 flared up as Chinese and Soviet forces clashed along the border as the Soviets trained anti-Chinese guerillas and urged Uyghurs to revolt against China, hailing their "national liberation struggle".[116] On January 30, 1967, it was reported that in Xinjiang, guerilla attacks were being carried out by a "Soviet-based Turkestan refugee army."[117] In 1969, Chinese and Soviet forces directly fought each other along the Xinjiang-Soviet border.[118][119][120][121]

The Soviet Union supported Uyghur nationalist propaganda and Uyghur separatist movements against China. The Soviet historians claimed that the Uyghur native land was Xinjiang and Uyghur nationalism was promoted by Soviet versions of history on turcology.[122] Soviet turcologists like D.I. Tikhonov wrote pro-independence works on Uyghur history and the Soviet supported Uyghur historian Tursun Rakhimov wrote more historical works supporting Uyghur independence and attacking the Chinese government, claiming that Xinjiang was an entity created by China made out of the different parts of East Turkestan and Zungharia.[123] These Soviet Uyghur historians were waging an "ideological war" against China, emphasizing the "national liberation movement" of Uyghurs throughout history.[124] The Soviet Communist Party supported the publication of works which glorified the Second East Turkestan Republic and the Ili Rebellion against China in its anti-China propaganda war.[125] Soviet propaganda writers wrote works claiming that Uyghurs lived better lives and were able to practice their culture only in Soviet Central Asia and not in Xinjiang.[126] In 1979 Soviet KGB agent Victor Louis wrote a thesis claiming that the Soviets should support a "war of liberation" against the "imperial" China to support Uighur, Tibetan, Mongol, and Manchu independence.[127][128] The Soviet KGB itself supported Uyghur separatists against China.[129] Among some Uyghurs, the Soviet Union was viewed extremely favorably and several of them believed that people of Turkic origin ruled the Soviet Union, claiming that one of these Turkic Soviet leaders was Mikhail Gorbachev.[130]

Uyghur nationalist historian Turghun Almas and his book Uyghurlar (The Uyghurs) and Uyghur nationalist accounts of history were galvanized by Soviet stances on history, "firmly grounded" in Soviet Turcological works, and both heavily influenced and partially created by Soviet historians and Soviet works on Turkic peoples.[131] Soviet historiography spawned the rendering of Uyghur history found in Uyghurlar.[132] Almas claimed that Central Asia was "the motherland of the Uyghurs" and also the "ancient golden cradle of world culture".[133]

Xinjiang's importance to China increased after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, leading to China's perception of being encircled by the Soviets.[134] China supported the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet invasion, and broadcast reports of Soviet atrocities on Afghan Muslims to Uyghurs in order to counter Soviet propaganda broadcasts into Xinjiang, which boasted that Soviet minorities lived better and incited Muslims to revolt.[135] Chinese radio beamed anti-Soviet broadcasts to Central Asian ethnic minorities like the Kazakhs.[118] The Soviets feared disloyalty among the non-Russian Kazakh, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz in the event of Chinese troops attacking the Soviet Union and entering Central Asia. Russians were goaded with the taunt "Just wait till the Chinese get here, they'll show you what's what!" by Central Asians when they had altercations.[136] The Chinese authorities viewed the Han migrants in Xinjiang as vital to defending the area against the Soviet Union.[137] China opened up camps to train the Afghan Mujahideen near Kashgar and Khotan and supplied them with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of small arms, rockets, mines, and anti-tank weapons.[138][139]

In the 1980s, there was a scattering of student demonstrations and riots against police action that took on an ethnic aspect; and the Baren Township riot in April, 1990, an abortive uprising, resulted in more than 50 deaths.[citation needed]

Late 1990s[edit]

A police round-up and execution of 30 suspected separatists[140] during Ramadan resulted in large demonstrations in February 1997 which were characterized as riots in the Chinese media,[141] but which the western media allege were peaceful.[142][unreliable source?] These demonstrations culminated in the Gulja Incident on the 5th of February, in which a People's Liberation Army (PLA) crackdown on the demonstrations led to at least nine deaths[143] and perhaps more than 100.[140] The Ürümqi bus bombings of February 25, 1997 killed nine and injured 68. The situation in Xinjiang was relatively quiet from the late nineties through mid-2006, though inter-ethnic tensions no doubt remained.[144]

A chain of aggressive and belligerent press releases in the 1990s making false claims about violent insurrections in Xinjiang, and exaggerating both the number of Chinese migrants and the total number of Uyghurs in Xinjiang were made by the former Soviet supported URFET leader Yusupbek Mukhlisi.[145][146]

Violent attacks were carried out by Turkey, Afghanistan, and Central Asian based groups.[147]

In Urumqi a bus bombing resulted in three deaths in February 1992, attributed to the Shock Brigade of the Islamic Reformist Party.[148]

In 1997 the Ghulja Incident occurred as a result of a series of demonstrations.

In Beijing's Xidan district, a bus bomb killed two people on March 7 1997 and Uyghur separatists boasted that they were behind the attack.[149] The participation of Uyghurs in the bus bombing was dismissed by the Chinese government even while the Turkey based "Organisation for East Turkistan Freedom" boasted to committing the attack.[150]

Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan received Uyghur recruits from the diaspora in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.[151]

2007 onwards[edit]

Even while the Uyghur jihadist group Turkistan Islamic Party distributes propaganda videos and its own Arabic Islamic Turkistan magazine, which is documented by and the Jamestown Foundation, the Chinese government seems to try to refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Turkistan Islamic Party, with China even trying to claim that there was no terrorist connection to the 2008 bus bombings in China even while Turkistan Islamic Party boasted on video to committing the attacks.[152]

In 2007, the world's attention was brought to the conflict following the Xinjiang raid on an alleged terrorist training camp,[153][unreliable source?] a thwarted 2008 suicide bombing attempt on a China Southern Airlines flight,[154] and the 2008 Xinjiang attack, which resulted in the deaths of sixteen police officers four days before the Beijing Olympics.[155][156] See 2008 Uyghur unrest for further details.

On 25/26 June 2009, the Shaoguan incident occurred in Guangdong province.

Further incidents include the July 2009 Ürümqi riots, the September 2009 Xinjiang unrest, and the 2010 Aksu bombing that led to the trials of 376 people.[157] The 2011 Hotan attack in July led to the deaths of 18 civilians. Although all of the attackers were Uyghur,[158] both Han and Uyghur people were victims.[159] In 2011, six ethnic Uyghur men attempted to hijack an aircraft heading to Ürümqi, but failed after passengers and crew resisted and restrained the hijackers. In 2011, a series of knife and bomb attacks occurred.

On 28 December 2011, the Pishan hostage crisis occurred.

On 28 February 2012, the 2012 Yecheng attack occurred.

On 24 April 2013, clashes in Bachu occurred between a group of armed men and social workers, then with police near Kashgar. The violence left at least 21 people dead, including 15 police and officials.[160][161][162] A local government official said that the clashes broke out after three local officials had reported suspicious men armed with knives who were hiding at a house in Selibuya township, outside Kashgar.[163] On 30 April 2014, a knife attack and bombing occurred in Ürümqi.

Two months later, on 26 June 2013, 27 people were killed in Shanshan riots; 17 of them were killed by rioters, while the other ten people were alleged assailants who were shot dead by police in the township of Lukqun.[164]

On 1 March 2014, a group of knife-wielding assailants attacked people at the Kunming Railway Station killing at least 29 and injuring 130 others.[165] China blamed Xinjiang militants for the attack.[166] Over 380 were arrested in the following crackdown and four people were charged on June 30 for the incident, in which 29 people were killed and 140 injured.[167] Three of the suspects were accused of "leading and organising a terror group, and intentional homicide". They did not take part in the attack as they were arrested two days before.[168] On September 12, a Chinese court sentenced three people to death and one to life in prison for the attack, in which 31 people were killed and 141 injured.[169]

On 18 April 2014, a group of 16 Chinese citizens identified as ethnic Uyghurs engaged in a shootout with Vietnamese border guards after seizing their guns as they were being detained to be returned to China. Five Uyghurs and two Vietnamese guards died in the incident. Ten of the Uyghurs were men and the rest were women and children.[170][171][172][173][174][175]

On 30 April 2014, two attackers stabbed people before detonating their suicide vests at an Ürümqi train station. Three people, including the two attackers, were killed.[176][177][178]

On 22 May 2014, twin suicide car bombings occurred after the occupants had thrown multiple explosives out of their vehicles at an Ürümqi street market. The attacks killed 43 people and injured more than 90, making it the deadliest attack yet in the Xinjiang conflict.[178][179][180]

On June 5, 2014, China sentenced 9 persons to death for terrorist attacks - they were seeking to overthrow Chinese rule, inspired by global jihadi ideology, in Xinjiang.[181]

On 28 July 2014, an incident occurred in the towns of Elixku and Huangdi in Shache county. The Chinese state media Xinhua said 37 civilians were killed by a gang armed with knives and axes in Xinjiang, with 59 attackers killed by security forces. Xinhua said 215 attackers were arrested after they stormed a police station and government offices. It said 30 police cars had been damaged or destroyed and dozens of Uyghur and Han Chinese civilians had been killed or injured. The incident is disputed as the Uyghur American Association (UAA) said that local Uyghurs had been protesting at the time of the attack. On 30 July 2014, the imam of China's largest mosque, Jume Tahir, in the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang, died after reportedly being stabbed after morning prayers for his reported pro-Beijing stance.[182]

On September 21, 2014, Chinese state media Xinhua reported a series of bomb blasts killed in total 50 people in Luntai County, southwest of the regional capital, Urumqi. This consisted of 6 civilians, 4 police, and 44 'rioters' [183]

On October 12, 2014, four Uyghurs armed with knives and explosives attacked a farmers' market in northwestern China's Xinjiang region, which according to police, left 22 people dead - including police officers and the attackers themselves.[184]

On 29 November 2014, 15 people were killed and 14 injured in the aftermath of an attack in the Shache county.11 of the killed were Uyghur militants.[185]

2015 anti-China protests in Turkey[edit]

On July 4, 2015, a group of around 2,000 Turkish nationalists from the Grey Wolves linked Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) protesting against China's fasting ban in Xinjiang mistakenly attacked South Korean tourists in Istanbul, which led to China issuing a travel warning to its citizens traveling to Turkey.[186] This event negatively impacted China–Turkey relations.[187]

Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said in a statement that the attacks by MHP affiliated Turkish youth on South Korean tourists was "understandable", telling the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, "What feature differentiates a Korean from a Chinese? They see that they both have slanted eyes. How can they tell the difference?".[188] Another translation of his remarks was : "What is the difference between a Korean and a Chinese anyway? They both have slitty eyes. Does it make any difference?"[189][190]

2015 Bangkok bombing[edit]

The 2015 Bangkok bombing is suspected to have been carried out by the Pan-Turkic neo-fascist Turkish ultra-nationalist organization Grey Wolves due to Thailand's deportation of Uyghur terrorist suspects back to China instead of allowing them to travel to Turkey for asylum. A Turkish man named Adem Karadag was arrested by the Thai police in connection to the bombing with Turkish passports. Bomb making materials were found in his apartment. The Grey Wolves are described by the media as a terrorist group and became famous for their assassinations and killings of journalists, liberals, and leftists in Turkey, their member Mehmet Ali Ağca's assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, and their involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh War and the Chechen war due to the Muslim and Turkic populations of those areas since their aim is the unification of all Muslim Turkic peoples into one state spanning from Central Asia to the Balkans.[191][192][193][194][195][196][197][198][199][200][201]


Over 800 people have been killed in the conflict, either directly as a combatant, or indirectly as a victim of terrorist attacks.[14]

In 2014, about 500 people have been recorded killed as a result of the conflict.[202][original research?]

Jihadist elements[edit]

al-Qaeda support for Uyghur militants[edit]

"1- Who are we? We are a group of workers for Islam and the Mujahideen for the cause of Allah to save the worshipers from the worshiping of worshipers [so that they can] worship the lord of the worshipers all over [the world] in general and Turkistan in particular. [This group] arose so that its members could cooperate on tawhid and purity and Allah-fearing and jihad for the cause of Allah, so as to liberate East Muslim Turkistan from the infidel Communist Chinese invasion and repulsing its invasion from religion of the Muslims and their honor and souls and money so as to establish Allah's pure religion, and empowering the Islamic Shari'a in Turkistan, and cooperate with the Mujahideen Muslims in the name of Allah all over the Muslim world to restore the wise Islamic caliphate and empower Allah's Shari'ah on the world." - Charter of the Turkistan Islamic Party - The Media Center of the Turkistan Islamic Party.[203]

"Third: Working and cooperating with all the Jihadi groups for the cause of Allah everywhere, so as to repulse the invasion of the infidel from them, and establishing Allah's Shar'iah everywhere. “Say thou: 'This is my way: I do invite unto Allah, - on evidence clear as the seeing with one's eyes, - I and whoever follows me. Glory to Allah. and never will I join gods with Allah.'” {Yusuf :108}" - Charter of the Turkistan Islamic Party - The Media Center of the Turkistan Islamic Party.[203]

"If you do not wage jihad, you will never be able to get rid of the oppression of the infidels which makes you abandon the religion and which makes slaves of you. Thus, you will not be able to be rescued from the oppression of this world and the torments of the hereafter, or find eternal happiness until you return to the religion of Allah... " - Abdul Haq (Memetiming Memeti), a commander in the Uyghur separatist movement Turkistan Islamic Party (East Turkestan Islamic Movement), from a video released by TIP, February 9. 2009.[204]

“We are, Allah-willing, proceeding along this path with all of our strength in order to rescue our oppressed brothers in East Turkistan – and Allah-willing, we are working on rescuing our oppressed brothers from the hands of the Communists until we make Allah’s religion supreme and we live a precious life in the shadow of Islamic Shariah law, or else be rewarded with martyrdom in the cause of Allah We are plotting for the Chinese to suffer the torture of Allah, or else by our hands ” - Abdul Haq, leader of the Uyghur separatist movement Turkistan Islamic Party (East Turkestan Islamic Movement), from “Steadfastness and Preparations for Jihad in the Cause of Allah.” Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), January 20, 2009.[205]

“Anyone who is familiar with the battles that the mujahideen are engaged in today will know that the path of Jihad is the only path to prevent attacks and injustice [against us]... and, the suffering of the Americans is on the rise in Iraq due to the operations of the mujahideen... As a result of these operations, America was forced to withdraw fr om Iraq, and still it has not learned its lesson. Today, it is once again drinking [from] the cup of failure in Afghanistan as it gasps for breath, [looking] to avoid defeat and withdrawal—and now it is fighting the dizziness of death. Those kind of results could never have been achieved with writings and speeches.”

“Meanwhile, with regards to the situation in East Turkestan which was once part of the Islamic nation and is now under the domination of the unjust infidel Communists, the confrontation is still ongoing between the mujahideen and the invading occupiers. And, Allah-willing, the operations of the mujahideen in East Turkestan will make the Chinese suffer just as America suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan, from shame, sc andal, and defeat... In 1997, the mujahideen of East Turkestan gathered under the leadership of Commander Hasan Mahsum beyond the borders of our land, and they were graced by ch oosing the path of training within the shadow of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan— as they were prohibited and forbidden from doing so in their own country because of the Chinese occupation. We used to be able to live in our land, and we knew the ways of living, but we abandoned ou r homes in order to support the oppressed and to remove the injustices committed against all Muslims. [We left] in order to try and gain our sovereignty from communist China, and for the sake of providing our people a carefree and happy existence under the shadow of the Quran and Sunnah. During this period of time, a large number of mujahideen from East Turkestan received training... Later, during this critical period, the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan was destroyed at the hands of the Zionist-Crusader assault launched under the lead of America... Nonetheless, the mujahideen of East Turkestan were able to continue their jihadi operations even after the collapse of the Islamic Emirate, thanks be to Allah.” - TIP Narrator, from “Steadfastness and Preparations for Jihad in the Cause of Allah.” Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), January 20, 2009.[206]

“We have to conquer our own country and purify it of all infidels. Then, we should conquer the infidels’ countries and spread Islam. The infidels who are usurping our countries have announced war against Islam and Muslims, forcing Muslims to abandon Islam and change their beliefs.” - Abdullah Mansour, leader of the Uyghur separatist movement Turkistan Islamic Party (East Turkestan Islamic Movement), from “The Duty of Faith and Support,” Voice of Islam/al-Fajr Media Center, August 26, 2009.[207]

The Turkistan Islamic Party (formerly East Turkestan Islamic Movement) is allied with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan[4] along with the Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek i Taliban Pakistan)[3] and al-Qaeda.[1][2]

“Our group, the Turkistan Islamic Party, is a group established as a continuation of the East Turkistan Jihad Movement in the year of 1989 under the unique leadership of Ziyauddin Yusuf.” - Abdul Haq (Memetiming Memeti), a commander in the Uyghur separatist movement Turkistan Islamic Party (East Turkestan Islamic Movement).[204]

Abdul Hameed, Abdul Azeez Makhdoom, and Hakeem Makhdoom launched the Islamic Party of Turkistan (حزب الإسلام لتركستان) (Hizbul Islam Li-Turkistan) in 1940.[204] After being set free from prison in 1979, Abdul Hakeem instructed Hasan Mahsum and other Uyghurs in fundamentalist Islam.[208]

In 1989 Ziyauddin Yusuf (pronounced Zeydin Yusup in Uyghur) started the group which was originally called East Turkistan Islamic Party (ETIP) in Arabic as (حزب الإسلام لتركستان الشرقية) Hizbul Islam Li-Turkistan Ash-Sharqiyah.[204] The name in Uyghur was (شەرقىي تۈركىستان ئىسلام پارتىيىسى) Sharki Turkistan Islam Partisi,[209] and in Turkish it was called Doğu Türkistan İslam Partisi.[210] Hasan Mahsum and Abudukadir Yapuquan reorganized the movement in 1997, in the same form that it exists today.[211] In 1998 Mahsum moved ETIM's headquarters to Kabul, taking shelter under Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, ETIM leaders met with Osama bin Laden and other leaders of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to coordinate actions. There, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement dropped the "East" from its name as it increased its domain.[212] The group's infrastructure was crippled after the United States invaded Afghanistan and bombed Al Qaeda bases in the mountainous regions along the border with Pakistan, during which the leader of ETIM, Hasan Mahsum, was killed.[213]

The organization renamed itself from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) to the new name Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) and abandoned usage of the name ETIM, although China still calls it by the name ETIM and refuses to acknowledge it as TIP.[214] The Turkistan Islamic Party was originally subordinated to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) but then split off and declared its name as TIP and started making itself known by promoting itself with its Islamic Turkistan magazine and Voice of Islam media in Chinese, Arabic, Russian, and Turkish in order to reach out to global jihadists.[215] Control over the Uyghur and Uzbek militants was transferred to the Pakistani Taliban from the Afghan Taliban after 2001, so violence against the militant's countries of origins can no longer restrained by the Afghan Taliban since the Pakistani Taliban does not have a stake in doing so.[216] TIP's Ṣawt al-Islām (Voice of Islam) media arm has released many video messages.[217][218][219][220][221]

One of the grievances against China by the TIP was that China implemented female and male equality.[222]

Al Qaeda appointed TIP (ETIM) member Abdul Haq al Turkistani to their Shura Majlis.[223] Al Qaeda also appointed TIP (ETIM) member Abdul Shakoor Turkistani as military commander of their forces in the FATA region of Pakistan.[224] Uyghur detainees at Guantanamo bay have confessed that they were trained by Abdul Haq and Hassan Mahsum in Afghanistan, Abdul Haq was the leader who threatened terror attacks on the 2008 Beijing Olympics, sits on the Shura Council of al-Qaeda, and subscribes to the methodology of al-Qaeda.[205] al-Qaeda's command viewed Abdul Haq as authoritative and sent him to meet with Taliban factions along with al-Qaeda commanders.[225]

TIP (ETIM) issued a eulogy for Doku Umarov of the Caucasian Emirate upon his death.[226][227]

For a while after he died, Osama bin Laden's successor was believed by some to be the ETIM leader Abdul Shakoor Turkistani because jihadist organizations have been powerfully influenced by ETIM.[228]

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released a statement supporting Jihad in Xinjiang against Chinese, in the Caucasus against the Russians, and naming Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan as places of warfare.[229] Zawahiri endorsed "jihad to liberate every span of land of the Muslims that has been usurped and violated, from Kashgar to Andalusia, and from the Caucasus to Somalia and Central Africa".[230] Uyghurs inhabit Kashgar, the city which was mentioned by Zawahiri.[231] Zawahiri released another statement, saying : "My mujahideen brothers in all places and of all groups ... we face aggression from America, Europe, and Russia ... so it's up to us to stand together as one from East Turkestan to Morocco".[232][233][234][235]

In 2006 Kavkaz Center reported that Al-Qaeda media arm Al-Fajr released a video urging Muslims to go on Jihad in support of the East Turkestan Independence Movement.[236]

Al-Qaeda member Abu Yahya al-Libi spoke in support of "Jihad" in "East Turkestan" against China.[237]

The TIP has some members of other ethnicities besides the Uighur, a TIP suicide bomber in Afghanistan who attacked American troops was Nuruddin, a Turkish militant and he advocated that Turks and Uighurs mount "Islamic flags at the White House and Beijing's Tiananmen Square" while a TIP Kazakh member named Uspan Batir made an appearance in a video and said There is a line artificially drawn by the infidel in between us--saying you are from Kazakhstan, Turkistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan--there is a line drawn artificially by the infidel, my brothers... The religion never came only to Kazakhs, it did not come only to Uighurs, and it did not come only to Arabs... Do not separate. Allah said, you do not separate to say that ‘you are Kazakhstan, you are Turkistan and you are Uzbekistan.’[215]

The Turkish TIP suicide bomber Nuruddin called for expulsion of "Crusader" and "Buddhist" "infidels", and called "Andalusia, East Turkistan, Chechyna, South Africa" as "lands of Islam".[238]

The Turkistan Islamic Party issued condolences for Taliban leader Mullah Omar upon his death.[239][240][241]

With the goal of establishing a Central Asian Islamic state, Uyghurs, Chechens, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kyrgyz Kazakhs, and other ethnicities flocked to serve under Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Juma Namangani.[242]

During the Battle of Kunduz in Afghanistan, foreign Islamist militants like Uyghurs, Chechens, Rohingya, Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Uzbeks joined the Taliban in the attack.[243][244][245][246][247][248] The Pakistani Army's Operation Zarb e Azb appears to have driven these foreign militants from Pakistan's northwestern area of Waziristan into Afghanistan.[249][250][251][252] Non-Afghan militants like Arabs, Tajiks, Chechens, Uyghurs, Uzbeks, and Pakistanis make up 40% of anti-government fighters in Afghanistan according to Dawlat Waziri, a member of the Defense Ministry of Afghanistan.[253][254][255][256] These militants caused a surge in fighting in 2015.[257] Uyghurs, Chechens, and Uzbeks made up the majority of casualties in clashes against Afghan National Security Forces.[258]

“Turkistān al-Islāmīyyah” Issue #14 endorsed attacks and killings against Chinese workers and referred to "Martyrdom Operations" against a police station and a "Martyr's Brigade".[259]

As part of an effort to reach out to foreign Muslims, on the Ink of Swords (Medad al-Sayouf) Network, an Arabic language magazine titled "Islamic Turkistan" (Turkistan al-Islamia) (تركستان الإسلامية) was issued by ETIM on January 2009 and it described ETIM as "a group of workers for Islam and the mujahideen in the Cause of Allah in order to liberate Turkistan", and said that the aim of ETIM was to "establish an Islamic Caliphate in the light of the Book and the Sunnah", "in the Cause of Allah, promotion of virtue, prevention of vice, and the call to Allah.", to create an Islamic State by means of jihad.[260]

Fellow al-Qaeda aligned Islamist organizations with the aim of a worldwide Islamic Caliphate cooperate with TIP (ETIM) whose own goal is an Islamic State, with TIP fighting against the militaries of Syria and Pakistan in addition to China and being assisted by Central Asian, Gulf, European, and North American based outfits and the TIP leader Abdullah Mansour used the words "mujahideen" and "jihadi operation" in a Uighur language video produced by TIP's Islam Awazi (Uyghur: ئىسلام ئاۋازى) Ṣawt al-Islām (Arabic:صوت الإسلام) Media Center when TIP took responsibility for the 29 October 2013 Tianmen Square terrorist attack.[261]

al-Qaeda included an article in its magazine "Resurgence" promoting East Turkestan Independence titled “Did You Know? 10 Facts About East Turkistan”, the article was ridden with errors and false claims such as claiming Quranic education was banned, and included other claims such as "East Turkistan has never been a part of China" and it was "independent of China for more than 1,800 years", "In 1949, 93 percent of the population of East Turkistan was Uyghur (Turk Muslims) while 7 percent was Chinese", and that "After the Communist takeover in 1949, more than 4.5 million Turkish Muslims were killed by the Communist government", with al-Qaeda calling for the "occupied Muslim land" "East Turkistan" to be "recovered [into] the shade of the Islamic Caliphate".[262]

The "Doğu Türkistan Haber Ajansı" (East Turkestan News Agency) published an article from Al-Qaeda branch Al-Nusrah's "Al-Risalah magazine, translated into Turkish and titled Al Risale : ”Türkistan Dağları ” 1. Bölüm (The Message : "Turkistan Mountains" Part 1.) on a Uyghur family, including a man, his brother, his sister, his wife, and his two little daughters and two nieces travelling from "East Turkestan" to Syria to join the "Jihad in the path of Allah".[263] The article claimed that "Turks" lived in "East Turkestan" for "four thousand years" and claimed "East Turkestan" was not part of China.[264] The article attacked China and the Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, accusing both China and the Saudis of running the same kind of government run Islamic institutes and organizations to control Muslims like "scholars for dollars and "palace scholars". The article then praised Allah for allowing Muslims from "Turkestan" to go to the Levant for Jihad.[265] El Risale addressed Muslims in Europe and criticized how they could go to Syria more easier than Muslims from "Turkestan", while the "Turkistani Mujahideen" endured massive obstacles and difficulties in reaching Syria to perform "Jihad in the path of Allah".[266] "Doğu Türkistan Haber Ajansı" carried an interview between El Risale and Abu Firas al-Suri, a leader in Al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front.[267] Al Qaida cleric Abdullah Al-Muhaysini praised the Turkistan Islamic Party fighters in their attacks against the "Nusayris" (Alawites) of the Syrian President Assad's army.[268]

Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria[edit]

Flag of Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria

The Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria uses the Jihadist Shahada flag with the name of the group in Arabic below the shahada: (الحزب الإسلامي التركستاني لنصرة أهل الشام) "Turkistan Islamic Party for the Support of the People of al-Sham". TIP in Syria also calls itself by the name of "Turkistan Islamic Party in the land of al-Sham" (الحزب الإسلامي التركستاني في بلاد الشام). A Jabhat al-Nusra member named Abu Rabah helped Uyghur militants start their first camp in Syria and a Turkish language website based in Turkey was launched to recruit "Uyghur mujahideen" to fight in Syria for the al-Qaeda affiliated Uyghur Turkistan Islamic Party.[269] TIP (ETIM) sent the "Turkistan Brigade" (Katibat Turkistani) (Arabic:كتيبة تركستاني) to take part in the Syrian Civil War,[270][271][272][273] most noticeably in the 2015 Jisr al-Shughur offensive.[274][275][276][277][278][279][280][281] The leader of TIP (ETIM) in Syria was Abu Rida al-Turkestani (أبو رضا التركستاني).[282][283][284][285] Abu Rida Al-Turkestani gave a speech during the offensive in Jisr al-Shughur inviting "Muslims" from "East Turkestan" to come to Sham in order to "kill" "Nusayris" (Alawites).[286] Abu Rida al-Turkestani gave a speech denouncing America and claiming Muslims are oppressed "in the land of Afghanistan, and in Turkestan, and in Waziristan, and in Burma, and in Bilad ash-Sham"[287] In May 2015 in Jisr al-Shugour the Syrian army killed Abu Rida al-Turkestani near a hospital.[288][289][290] TIP (ETIM) members in Syria fight alongside the Al-Qaeda branch Al Nusrah Front since TIP is allied to Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan and conducted suicide bombings for Nusrah Front.[291] Members of TIP have been killed in battle in Syria.[292] TIP (ETIM) eulogized and applauded members of its organization who participated in suicide bombings and members who were killed in action in Jisr al Shughur.[293] Members of the group helped other Jihadists enforce religious law in Idlib such as wrecking alcohol in stores and this was noted that with “support of Allah and by the strike of the fist of the Mujahideen from the Al Nusrah Front, Ahrar al Sham and Turkistan,” that they undertook these actions by a Syrian Jihadist in Jaysh al Fateh.[294] A Jabhat Al Nusra Jihadist called Abu Mohamed Al-Ansari interviewed by VICE News after the Idlib offensive said that "The battle was good, praise be to God. The brothers from all the groups started working together and coordinating. Each faction is responsible for a side. The majority were immigrant brothers from Turkestan. They are the ones who attacked the important points."[295][296] The spokesman of Jabhat Al-Nusra Abu Maria al-Qahtani claimed that Muslims were "oppressed" in "Turkestan" and that Nusra needs to "defend" them.[297] TIP (ETIM) joined in on the Jihadist offensive in the Al-Ghab plain along with Al-Qaeda affiliated Jund al Aqsa against the Syrian army, referring to the Syrian army by the disparaging name "Nusayri".[298][299] The Turkistan Islamic Party and Jabhat Al-Nusra launched a joint operation which overran the Syrian military's Abu Dhuhur airbase.[300][301][302][303] The Turkistan Islamic Party's Islam Awazi released photos of its fighters in Syria. The Uyghur Turkistan Islamic Party and the Taliban allied Uzbek Imam Bukhari Jamaat and Al-Qaeda allied Uzbek Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad, along with Jund al Aqsa cooperated together in the Al Ghab plain to conquer multiple crucial villages, with the TIP engaging in suicide bombings in Jisr al Shughur and its participation in overrunning Abu Dhuhur with Jund al Aqsa and Al Nusrah.[304] The Turkistan Islamic Party released photos of their Uyghur fighters at Abu Dhuhur.[305]

A mass execution of 56 captured Syrian soldiers was carried out by the Turkestan Islamic Party in Syria along with Jabhat al-Nusra at Abu al-Duhur.[306][307][308][309][310][311][312][313]

After the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War, photos of Uyghur fighters from Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria were released with captions in Arabic that said “standing up strongly to the Nusayri army and the Russians.” (المجاهدين التركستانيين يتصدى بقوة للجيش النصيري ومن قبل الروس).[314] In response to the Russian backed offensive by the Syrian Army the jihadist Turkistan Islamic Party sent fighters to the Ghab Plain to support rebels in fighting against the Syrian Army, Iranians, and Hezbollah forces.[315][316][317][318][319][320][321][322][323][324][325][326] The Syria-based, Al-Qaeda linked Saudi cleric Abdullah Muhammad Al-Muhaysini arranged for foreign fighters of multiple backgrounds to repeat the phrase "The Levant is the graveyard of the Russians", in a video message, among them was a fighter claiming to be from "East Turkestan".[327][328]

One of Sayfullakh Shishani's fighters in Jabhat al-Nusra claimed that a united faction called al-Muhajireen was formed out of the unification of the Uyghur Turkistan, Uzbek Abu Salyaha and Al-Bukhari, Ahlu Sunnah wal-Jama'a, and Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar.[329]

Katiba Turkistan joined with Ahrar al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Junud al-Sham against the Syrian army in the battle for Jisr al-Shughur.[330]

Arab news agencies reported that the Uyghurs in TIP, the Chechens in Junud Al Sham, Jabhat Al Nusra and Ahrar al Sham are being coordinated by Turkish intelligence to work with the Army of Conquest.[331][332][333]

Syrian Churches have been demolished by Turkistan Islamic Party Uyghur fighters, who exalted in the acts of destruction, and in Homs and Idlib battlefields the Turkistan Islamic Party cooperated with Uzbek brigades and Jabhat al-Nusra, Jabhat al-Nusra and IS (ISIL) compete with each other to recruit Uyghur fighters.[334] In Jisr al-Shughur a Church's cross had a TIP flag placed on top of it after the end of the battle.[335][336][337][338]

The Turkistan Islamic Party has participated in besieging the Shiite villages Fua’a and Kafriyeh.[339][340]

The village of Az-Zanbaqi (الزنبقي) in Jisr al-Shughur's countryside has become a base for a massive amount of Uyghur Turkistan Islamic Party militants and their families in Syria, estimated at around 3,500, military camps in the area are training hundreds of children from these families; Hezbollah media, Iranian media and Syrian government media accused Turkish intelligence of being involved in transporting these Uyghurs via Turkey to Syria, with the aim of using them first in Syria to help Jabhat Al-Nusra and gain combat experience fighting against the Syrian Army before sending them back to Xinjiang to fight against China if they manage to survive.[341][342][343][344][345][346][347][348][349][350][351][352][353][354][355][356][357][358][359]

The Syrian political analyst and Arab nationalist Taleb Ibrahim accused Turkey of trying to demographically alter areas of Syria by sending in Turkic peoples like Uyghurs, Turkmens, and others to take over whole villages after ethnically cleansing the Arab locals, accusing Turkey of neo-Ottoman and Turkish colonialist policies towards Syria and trying to take parts of Syria from Arabs.[360][361]

TIP's Islam Awazi encouraged entire Uyghur families including women and children to emigrate abroad to perform "Jihad".[362]

Turkish connections were used by Uyghur fighters to go into Syria and the humanitarian Uyghur Eastern Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association (ETESA) which is located in Turkey sent Uyghurs into Syria, endorsed the killing of the pro-China Imam Juma Tayir, applauded attacks in China, and posted on its website content from the TIP.[363]

On a communique dated to Wednesday, 9th of Dhu al-Hijjah 1436 Hijra TIP's Islam Awazi media arm stated that This year is drawing to a close and we thank Allah for what He has blessed us with conquests, victories, and glory. 'We your brothers the Mujahideen of Turkistan are continuing in the liberation of the land of al-Sham and proceeding in our jihad for the sake of Allah to liberate every last inch of the land of al-Sham, with permission from Allah.[364][365][366][367]

ISIS/ISIL support for Uyghur militants[edit]

The terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as ISIS or ISIL) released a video in June 2015 featuring an 80 year old Uyghur man who came to join ISIS in Syria along with his grandchildren, wife, and daughter after he was inspired by his son who died in combat in Syria. The video featured Uyghur children singing about martyrdom and a 10 year old Uyghur child threatening China, saying : "O Chinese kuffar (non-believers), know that we are preparing in the land of the khilafah (caliphate) and we will come to you and raise this flag in Turkestan with the permission of Allah.”[368][369][370][371][372] The old Uyghur man said "'I made hijrah accompanied by my four grandsons, my daughter and my wife".[373][374][375][376][377]

Turkish passports were used by Uyghurs who were seeking to contact Mujahidin Indonesia Timor, a pro-ISIS organization in Sulawesi in Indonesia.[378]

The Turkish run English language BGNNews news agency reported that the Turkish Meydan newspaper discovered that Uyghur fighters joining ISIL were being helped by businessman Nurali T., who led an Zeytinburnu district based network in Istanbul, which produced counterfeit Turkish passports numbering up to 100,000 to give to Uyghurs from China and help them go to Turkey form where they would enter Iraq and Syria to join ISIL, Uyghurs from China travel to Malaysia via Cambodia and Thailand and then travel onto Turkey, since a visa is not needed for travel between Turkey and Malaysia, then staying at locations in Istanbul, and then going to Iraq and Syria by traveling to southeastern Turkey, the information was revealed by AG who participates in the network, he noted that even though Turkish authorities are able to detect the fake passports they do not deport the Uyghurs and allow them into Turkey, AG said that: “Turkey has secret dealings with the Uighurs. The authorities first confiscate the passports but then release the individuals.”[379]

After Thailand deported Uyghurs back to China whom China suspected to have "been on their way to Turkey, Syria or Iraq to join jihad", John Kirby, a United States State Department spokesman, slammed the move and said Thailand should "allow those remaining ethnic Uighurs to depart voluntarily to a country of their choice".[191]

See also[edit]



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