Iraq is claiming that its soldiers captured an Islamic State militant from China, according to photos and posts published online yesterday. If true, this would make the man the first confirmed Chinese national to be found fighting for the extremist Sunni militant group, SCMP reports.
A Facebook page identified as being handled by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense published two photos showing the alleged captured militant, whose face appears to be bruised and beaten, with a short message describing him as “Chinese daash”—referring to “The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” (ISIS).
In one photo the captured militant is seen being guarded by an Iraqi soldier. Another photo shows him lying unconscious on the ground. […]
The Chinese embassy in Iraq declined to comment on the photos when contacted on Wednesday. The Iraqi government and Chinese foreign ministry have not responded to interview requests from the South China Morning Post.
If proven, the photos would be the first evidence that Chinese nationals have joined the extremist Sunni militants, along with scores of foreigners, including at least several hundred from Britain, Australia and the United States.
China was named, among several other countries, during a July 4 speech in Mosul, Iraq, in which Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi called on Muslims around the world to join his cause.
“Muslim rights are forcibly seized in China, India, Palestine,” he said. “Your brothers all over the world are waiting for your rescue, and are anticipating your brigades…So by Allah, we will take revenge! By Allah, we will take revenge!”
The Hong Kong-based Phoenix Weekly translated the speech from Arabic to Chinese, stressing that China was the first country named on Baghadi’s hit list, effectively throwing Chinese media into a frenzy.
Wu Sike, China’s envoy to the Middle East, estimated that around 100 Chinese citizens might be fighting for IS. Wu said most of them were Muslim Uyghurs from Xinjiang, where China has just initiated its own war on terror.