Thousands of Chinese Muslims are fighting with jihadi groups in Syria, according to an Israeli Foreign Ministry report quoted on Ynet Monday night.
Chinese authorities are concerned that tens of thousands of their nationals are involved in the Syrian civil war, and that they could pose a threat to national security.
A report, which contains material from military intelligence and the Mossad, said: “The arrival of tens of thousands of Chinese citizens fighting and living in the country raises the need for monitoring them. China is interested in as much data that can be collected on them, and it is our understanding that they would prefer to liquidate them on Syrian soil, in order to prevent their return to their region.”
China is said to be looking to Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime to assist in the disposition of the terrorists.
The Chinese in Syria belong to the Muslim Uyghur minority, a Sunni minority that speaks a Turkish dialect and is native to the northwestern province of Xinjiang. The Chinese have been trying to block the illegal departure of Uyghurs from the country, but large numbers have fled through the southern border to reach Turkey, from where they travel on to Syria. President Assad has blamed Turkey for the problem.
The Israeli report estimates that 3,000 Uyghurs are fighting with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the al-Qaeda branch in Syria (formerly known as the al-Nusra Front), and several hundred fighters in ISIS. China estimates the number of fighters to be around 5,000. Many Uyghur families have settled in villages in Syria, as well, making them harder to extricate.
The author of the report stated that “the main threat to China is not the return of Uyghurs to China, but rather the activities of Uyghur terrorists operating against Chinese targets outside China.”