Photos apparently showing Chinese Islamic State militant appear online

Photos apparently showing Chinese Islamic State militant appear online
Two photos have appeared online purportedly showing a Chinese Islamic State militant who has been captured. If proven authentic, he would be the first known Chinese national to join the extremist group.

Photos have emerged online apparently showing a Chinese man fighting for the Islamist militant group the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

The South China Morning Post reported that a Facebook page identified as operated by the Iraqi Ministry of Defence published two photos of the man, who has apparently been captured.

The post described the man as "Chinese daash" - daash being an acronym for "The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria", or ISIS.

One photo shows the militant guarded by an Iraqi soldier while the other shows him unconscious on the ground. In both photos, he seems to have taken severe beatings to his face, making it difficult to ascertain his ethnicity.

When contacted by the South China Morning Post, the Chinese embassy in Iraq declined to comment on the photos.

If proven authentic, the photos, which first appeared on Sept 2, would be the first evidence that Chinese nationals have joined the extremist Sunni militants.

The extreme group already has many foreigners among its members, most notably several hundred from Britain, Australia and the United States.

In 2013, a YouTube video showed a Chinese man called "Bo Wang" who said he had joined Islamist militants to fight in Syria.

In a July speech, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi had called on all Muslims around the world to join his cause, adding that Muslim rights had been forcibly seized in China, India and Palestine.

Wu Sike, China's special envoy to the Middle East, had estimated that about 100 Chinese citizens, mainly Muslim Uyghurs from the northwestern Xinjiang province, may be fighting for the Islamic State.

This estimate was corroborated by Yin Gang, a West Asian and African Studies scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Yin said that while many fighters had sought to join al-Qaeda in Afghanistan before, the relative stability there meant many were now entering Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State.

"All Muslims under heaven are one family. These Chinese nationals are responding to the extreme Muslims' call to join the jihad of ISIS and are seeking to gather combat experience," he added.

seanyap@sph.com.sg

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