The release of a propaganda video aimed directly at Chinese Muslims shows that ISIS has expanded its recruitment tactics to China.
The video is set to a Mandarin Chinese version of nasheed, a cappella song extolling Islam. The video urges Chinese Muslims and sympathizers to “wake up” and in accordance with Allah’s commands take up weapons to “rebel”.
Although ISIS has produced other recruiting materials in Mandarin Chinese, this is the first known video aimed solely at China which is one of the 60 countries named in the terror groups “coalition of devils” propaganda video released last month.
ISIS also lists the northern Chinese territory of Xinjiang on a map of ISIS’s territorial ambitions.
Last July, China’s special envoy to the Middle East, Wu Sike, expressed concern about extremists fighting for ISIS returning to China to carry out an attack. Wu estimates the number of Chinese fighters within ISIS ranks to be 100, although some say that number may be as high as 300.
The song used in the video says Chinese Muslims have been “enslaved for a century,” with “shameful memories” of that period. It urges Muslims to help regain Islam’s lost historic glory.
Although aimed at Chinese Muslims, the video also speaks to the general population, saying China has been subject to a “century of humiliation” from foreign powers, using China’s narrative of historical glory, humiliation, and the struggle to return to glory .
“Dying on this battlefield is our dream,” the song says, urging viewers to "pick up weapons and fight in accordance with holy commandments."
If the video has any impact in China, it’s hard to tell as China blocks many of the social media platforms used by ISIS to spread its propaganda. But ISIS might find a receptive audience in Chinese citizens who are growing wary of the iron fist control of freedoms its government asserts.