ISIS has released a new propaganda video that stars an 80-year-old jihadist who says he fled from China along with his family to join and fight alongside the militant group in Iraq and Syria.
Muhammed Amin is thought to be a member of China’s Muslim Uighur minority, which makes up some 45 percent of the population of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. In a serene, green field located in ISIS-controlled Syria he tells another ISIS fighter that he decided to join the self-declared Islamic Caliphate after his son was killed fighting in Syria. Amin brought along with him his wife, daughter and four grandsons.
“I was subjected to oppression In Turkestan at the hands of the Chinese […] for 60 years and when I saw my son killed alongside the Mujahidin […] in a video I resolved to make Hijrah,” he says.
After the difficult journey to Syria, Amin enrolled in a training camp, where he says he “did almost everything and ended training camp well.” For his efforts he was awarded a weapon, but was not given permission to join the fight. Still, he boasts that he is now able to walk more than two kilometers. The video shows off his gun and walking skills and also features him sitting happily at an artillery position.
This video isn’t quite as flashy as the usual fare from the world’s most media savvy terrorist organization and it seems unlikely that ISIS is trying to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies by showing a grandpa jihadi capable of two-block strolls. Instead, the propaganda video seems targeted at emphasizing the Islamic State’s message of inclusion, especially toward Uighurs, no matter their age.
Next, the video shifts to a classroom where Uighur children are interviewed on camera about their journey to the Islamic State. A young Uighur boy sings a song praising martyrdom as another classmate shouts a warning directed at the Chinese government: “O Chinese kuffar, know that we are preparing in the land of the Khalifah and we will come to you and raise this flag in Turkestan.”
Chinese authorities have long argued that Chinese Uighurs have been traveling to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS and then return back home to take part in plots against Chinese rule in Xinjiang, fueling unrest and violence that sometimes spreads across China.
This activity has prompted a serious crackdown on extremism by the Chinese government that has resulted in a total of 181 suspected “terror gangs” being apprehended in Xinjiang in just over a year. Of course, China’s crackdown has a tendency to go extreme as well. In the past two years, Chinese authorities have ordered Muslim shopkeepers to sell alcohol and cigarettes, banned burkhas from public buses, jailed a Muslim man for six years for growing a beard and confiscated and burned almost 100,000 matchboxes in Xinjiang. Increasingly assertive policies like these seem to be having the opposite of the intended effect.
Watch the propaganda power of the Islamic State’s oldest jihadi:
by Alex Linder