The Islamic State group has extended it recruiting efforts to China, according to an analysis of a recently released ISIS chant that was recorded in Mandarin. The chant, which was aimed toward the 10 million Mandarin-speaking Muslims living in China, calls on its listeners to “wake up” and “take up weapons to fight,” according to a New York Times report Tuesday.
The new chant was posted online Sunday by the ISIS’ foreign language media division -- known as the Al Hayat Media Center -- and was analyzed by the SITE Intelligence group, which tracks jihadi propaganda. It’s not yet clear if the chant is purely a recruiting tool to attract fighters to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq or if it's aimed at stoking extremism among Muslims living inside China. In July 2014, the terror group’s leader, cleric Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said that China was one of the country’s in which “Muslims’ rights are forcibly seized.”
— Deepanjana Pal (@dpanjana) December 8, 2015
Previous recruiting attempts by ISIS in China have primarily targeted the roughly 10 million people from the Turkic-speaking Uighur ethnic group, which is a Sunni Islam group predominately found in China’s far west. The new effort is the first time ISIS has made attempts to target the Mandarin-speaking Hui ethnic group, which is common across northwest China. Huis are the largest group practicing Islam in the country, although there are small pockets of Kazakhs and Tajiks that are also Muslim.
In recent years, the Uighur population has clashed violently with the ruling Communist Party, which claims that it faces a terror threat in the region. Last month, Chinese officials said they used a flamethrower to force so-called Uighur terrorists from a cave. They were believed to have been involved in a deadly coal mine attack in October.
While there is no reliable information on how many Chinese nationals have joined ISIS, the terror group’s leaders have said that nationals from China have joined, according to the New York Times. In late July, the former Chinese envoy to the Middle East, Wu Sike, said that around 100 Chinese fighters were being trained or were fighting with ISIS. Most, he said, were Uighurs.