Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria shows more ‘little jihadists’

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Children as seen in the video

The Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria (TIP), an al Qaeda-linked Uighur jihadist group, has released a new video showing celebrations for the Muslim holiday Eid al Adha. Part of the video is dedicated to what it refers to as “little jihadists,” or children members of the group.

Most of the video includes small clips and photos from the Eid al Adha celebrations, combat footage from recent battles, and some of its killed fighters. Around halfway through the video, children are shown posing with AK-47 assault rifles, pistols, and attending Sharia classes. Many of the children are boys, but some girls are also seen with weapons in the video. It was a release similar to a video from last September, but that video also showed the children partaking in weapons training. (See LWJ report, Uighur jihadist group in Syria advertises ‘little jihadists’.)

Last July, the group first publicized a training camp in Idlib. Earlier this year, TIP-affiliated Twitter accounts published photos showing children attending a military training camp somewhere in northwestern Syria.

While the TIP has been active in Syria, the organization’s core leadership is based in Afghanistan and Pakistan and operates in those countries as well as in China. The TIP has also advertised camps for children in the Afghan-Pakistan region.

In a video released in 2013, the jihadist group promoted a camp for children in Pakistan, some of whom appear to be no older than six. The children were shown firing handguns, AK-47 assault rifles, and a PKM machine-gun from various positions. As the children fired their weapons, the black flag of the Taliban and a light blue banner used by the Turkistan Islamic Party could be seen flying in the background.

The TIP is not the only foreign al Qaeda ally in Syria known to train children. In December, the Imam Bukhari Jamaat (also known as Katibat Imam Bukhari), an Uzbek group in Syria loyal to the Taliban, released an 18-minute video showing the group training dozens of children. The children, who range from under 10 to mid-teens, are seen taking part in physical exercises and lessons on how to handle and fire weapons. (See LWJ report, Uzbek group in Syria trains children for jihad.)

The popular Saudi cleric Abdullah al Muhaysini’s Jihad Callers Center also released a video last September showing native Syrian children training at a camp ran by the group. Muhaysini is closely tied to al Qaeda and the Al Nusrah Front. Additionally, the Chechen-led Junud al Sham, led by US-designated terrorist Muslim Shishani, is known to have ran training camps for children in the past. The Islamic State, which garners the most media attention, is infamous for its training camps for children.

Screenshots from the video:

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Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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