Al Qaeda declares solidarity with Turkistan Islamic Party in the face of Chinese oppression

In mid-March, TIP leader Abdul Haq al-Turkistani called on various al Qaeda figures and the head of the Taliban to offer more rhetorical support for the Uighurs’ cause.

Earlier this month, al Qaeda’s general command released a statement expressing solidarity with the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) and the Uighur people. Al Qaeda’s statement came in response to a mid-March message from the longtime leader of the TIP, Abdul Haq al-Turkistani.

Abdul Haq decried China’s occupation of the territory commonly known as Xinjiang, claiming that it hasn’t received the attention such oppression deserves. He also called upon the head of the Taliban, the leader of al Qaeda, as well as several high-profile al Qaeda ideologues to offer additional ideological support for the Uighur cause. Some of the men he addressed have now responded — including al Qaeda’s management team.

Al Qaeda’s general command stresses its unity with the TIP and Abdul Haq in the face of oppression and other challenges.

“Verily, in the completion of faith we must support our oppressed, believing brothers in Turkistan, and we stand with our just and righteous companions in the Turkistan Islamic Party, under the leadership of the Mujahid Sheikh Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, may Allah support him,” the statement reads, according to an English translation al Qaeda posted on Telegram.

The “pagan nations” have “scrambled to eliminate their [the Uighurs’] Islamic issue.” But al Qaeda says it is “letting it be known to our glorious brothers that we still stand with you, and our issue is your issue, upon the vow of love and support and loyalty which we took ourselves, just as you have entrusted it with us, we did not sever the cord of love and loyalty, and we did not break the bonds of honesty and brotherhood.”

Al Qaeda’s general command praises the TIP for its steadfastness in Afghanistan and China, as the group has refused to accept anything other than governance according to Islamic law. “So be happy as we bear witness to Allah that we have not witnessed anything during our friendship with you and with the Turkistan Islamic Party members except goodwill,” the statement reads.

Al Qaeda also calls on Muslims to support the “mujahidin in Turkistan” in whatever ways they can.

“We urge Muslims in general, and the scholars and studied ones and financiers in particular, to stand with you and with the Eastern Turkistan issue,” al Qaeda’s men write. These same individuals should make an effort “to spread their issue, which is buried alive in gatherings and forums.” Moreover, Muslims and scholars should “support them financially with whatever they can, including collecting donations and charity” for “the mujahidin in Turkistan.”

Abdul Haq’s message in mid-March indicated that he did not think the Uighurs’ cause has received enough attention from jihadists. Al Qaeda’s general command and others responded in short order, thereby demonstrating their desire to buttress the TIP’s efforts. Of course, the overwhelming majority of Muslims imprisoned or otherwise oppressed by the Chinese government have nothing to do with the TIP or al Qaeda.

But it is likely that various al Qaeda-affiliated groups and individuals will continue to draw attention to the Uighurs’ plight in the coming months. As in other countries, the jihadists seek to use China’s anti-Muslim policies as part of their recruitment efforts, hoping that more disaffected individuals will join their cause.

Noting China’s “oppression and torture” of Muslims in Turkistan (Xinjiang), al Qaeda’s general command proclaims its “solidarity” with those suffering through the oppression, adding that the group will “stand alongside you as brothers.”

“History and reality bear witness that truth has joined us together so that we are one body,” al Qaeda’s general command states.

For more on Abdul Haq al-Turkistani’s call for ideological support, the TIP’s ties to al Qaeda and related matters, see FDD’s Long War Journal reports, Turkistan Islamic Party head decries Chinese occupation and Analysis: The Turkistan Islamic Party’s jihad in Syria.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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