ISIS Goes East: 300 Chinese Join Jihad Via Malaysia

January 23, 2015  

Islamic State (ISIS) recruiting is not just a problem of the West, revealed Chinese vice-minister of Public Safety Ministry Meng Hongwei, as he spoke with Malaysia’s Minister of Home Affairs Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and revealed 300 Chinese have left to join the terrorist group.

Meng, whose ministry is tasked with managing the country’s police force, told Hamidi that the jihadists traveled via Malaysia, and asked for cooperation from the Muslim-majority state in cutting down on the troubling phenomenon, reports the Chinese Communist party’s Global Times on Friday, as cited by the Japanese-language NHK.

“Around 300 Chinese have joined the Islamic State active in Syria and Iraq using Malaysia as a stopover,” Meng said, with the Chinese Uyghur Muslim minority a likely source of the jihadists.

In response, Hamidi promised cooperation and asked for information regarding Chinese suspected of contact with ISIS, so as to put together a list of suspects and stop their travel to the Middle East.

The Communist paper noted on the fears that the Chinese ISIS terrorists may return well-trained to conduct attacks in China, where the Sunni Muslim Uyghur minority in northeastern Xinjiang province has been a seat of unrest.

In the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which borders Pakistan among other countries, separatist Uyghur factions have conducted numerous attacks with explosives and other means, with China cracking down in response and trying to have them blacklisted as a terrorist organization.

NHK pointed out that the request for Malaysian aid is likely meant to drum up international support for Chinese actions against the Uyghurs, which has often been met with condemnation.

The development comes the same Friday that an ISIS deadline to pay a ransom and free two captive Japanese nationals reached an end, with ISIS likely to follow through with its threat to behead the two. This marks the first time Asian captives have been threatened, or that ISIS demanded a ransom to free its hostages.

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