Authors: Colin P. Clarke and Paul Rexton Kan
Source: The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (Link: https://icct.nl/publication/uighur-foreign-fighters-an-underexamined-jihadist-challenge/)
Uighurs, specifically individuals of Turkic decent from China’s northwest province of Xinjiang, have become a noticeable part of the constellation of globally active jihadist terror groups. Uighur jihadists first came to the world’s attention when the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001. While continuing their cooperation with the Taliban under the banner of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Uighur jihadists have now spread to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. ETIM’s members are part of the Turkestan Islamic Party fighting with the Al-Qaeda umbrella group in Syria, but other Uighurs have joined IS in Syria and Iraq, and still others have joined local terror groups in Indonesia. However, Uighurs are currently underexamined as active participants in jihadist organisations. Publications about Uighurs have been piecemeal – focusing on their struggles against the Chinese government or narrowly describing the specific groups in which Uighurs have been participants. This Policy Brief explores the scope and scale of Uighur Foreign Fighters (UFF) activity in various locations, its implications and how their participation in global jihadist groups may evolve.