By Colin P. Clarke and Paul Rexton Kan
Defense One – September 28, 2017
Once separatists, now jihadists, some Uighurs returning from the ISIS battlefield could threaten — and test — Beijing.
Most of the foreign fighters that flooded into in Syria during the past few years came from the West, but some jihadists also arrived from the Far East, including as many as 300 of Western China’s Uighurs, the Sunni Muslim indigenous ethnic minority. Now that the Islamic State’s caliphate is collapsing, it seems inevitable that some will return to China, bringing with them more of the jihadist ideology and influence that has leaders in Beijing worried.
The Uighurs come from China’s western province of Xinjiang that borders Afghanistan and Pakistan. China cannot afford further instability in Xinjiang. With its abundant natural resources, and rampant arms smuggling, Beijing has begun shoring up its border patrol there.