China was seeking international cooperation on combatting radical Islamic extremism after a video attributed to the Islamic State group appeared to threaten Beijing directly for the first time, the Chinese foreign ministry revealed Wednesday. The news came as Beijing conducted joint air and land anti-terror drills in its restive, northwestern region from which militants featured in the video were believed to have originated.
The half-hour clip was released Monday by ISIS’ al-Furat or Euphrates division active in western Iraq and eastern Syrian and depicted militants from China’s Muslim-majority Uighur population training for combat and executing alleged informants, according to SITE Intelligence Group. China has maintained a tight grip on the northwestern Xinjiang region where most of its Uighur community live, however, Beijing has blamed a number of deadly bomb, knife and vehicle attacks in recent years on jihadist activity in the area. Monday’s video appeared to validate China’s fears that some Uighurs might join larger Islamic fundamentalist movements.
“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,” one Uighur militant said before executing an accused spy, according to Al Jazeera.
The footage also included images of China’s President Xi Jinping bursting into flames and was the group’s “first direct threat” against China, Michael Clarke, an expert on Xinjiang at the National Security College of Australian National University, told Agence France-Presse Wednesday, adding that China was now “very firmly a target of jihadist rhetoric.” Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said he had no knowledge of the video, but emphasized the government’s willingness to work with other nations in fighting Islamist militants.