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Jihadists returning from Syria: already more than 150 dead in China

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The presence of Chinese jihadists in Syria has been ascertained since October 2012 [1]. However, it has increased dramatically in the summer of 2014, leading to the emergence of a Chinese neighborhood in Rakka, the capital of the Islamic State.

Mainly ethnic Uighurs from Western China, the fighters often go through Cambodia and Indonesia and are ultimately picked up and transported to their destination with the help of Turkish intelligence services (MIT).

In recent months, several Islamist attacks were perpetrated in China by jihadists returning from Syria:
- Tiananmen Square in Beijing, October 28, 2013, five people dead and over 40 injured;
- Kunming Railway Station, 1 March 2014, 29 dead and 143 wounded;
- Station Uruqmi, April 30, 2014, 2 dead and 79 wounded;
- Market Urumqi, May 22, 2014, 31 dead and many wounded;
- Hotel Police Kargilik, June 21, 2014, 13 dead and three wounded.
- Police Shache hotel / Yarkant, July 28, 2014, 96 dead and many wounded.

Although there are rising concerns that similar events may occur in Europe and the United States, these are currently the only verified incidents of fighters who have committed attacks on their return home from Syria in the context of their Jihadist [2] affiliations.

The Islamic State seems to have been designed to attack the People’s Republic of China eventually [3].

The Iraqi Ministry of Defense released two photographs of Chinese citizens who are members of the Islamic State.

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In mid-October 2014, Al-Qaeda published in the first issue of its journal in English, Resurgence, an article on East Turkestan, the former name of Xinjiang. It claims that Islam is banned in China while it happens to be one of the five official religions. In addition, the publication called for action against China supply routes.

Reportedly, more than one thousand Chinese jihadist are training in Pakistan to be later sent to Syria, before returning to China.

Throughout its history, China has used its veto power in the United Nations Security Council on eight occasions: 4 times to protect Syria from aggression on the part Western and Gulf States.

The People’s Republic of China - who so far had sided only with Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistani conflict - has decided to move closer to India and to hold jointly counter-terrorism exercises [4].

In response to al-Qaeda activities in the Ferghana Valley, China and Russia have created the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to combat separatism and jihadism.

According to the Chinese media, in the past two months, 139 people were arrested and 256 others convicted for their links with jihadist organizations.

[1] “Chinese jihadists back from Syria”, Voltaire Network, 4 July 2013.

[2] The case of Mehdi Nemmouche, a French national of Algerian origin, accused of killing four people at the Jewish Museum of Brussels, is of a different nature, because his victims were not ordinary civilians; two of them were Mossad agents.

[3] "Un djihad mondial contre les BRICS ?", Alfredo Jalife-Rahme, Translation Arnaud Bréart, La Jornada (Mexique), Réseau Voltaire, 18 July 2014. "Opération "Émirat islamique", objectif Chine", Manlio Dinucci, Translation Marie-Ange Patrizio, Il Manifesto (Italie), Réseau Voltaire, 21 September 2014. “Who Makes Up the "Islamic Emirate"?”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Roger Lagassé, Voltaire Network, 22 September 2014.

[4] China’s counter-terror drills with India are really about its fears of Pakistan, Rajeev Sharma, First Post, 19 October 2014.

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