Before it became a significant actor in the Syrian civil war in 2013, the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) or the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) was one of the most obscure jihadist organisations in the world. The TIP, then based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, appeared to be more of a propaganda group with few fighters in its ranks when it started releasing videos in 2008 through its media outlet – “Islam Awazi” (Voice of Islam).
The ETIM/TIP has vowed to carry out jihad against the “Chinese occupiers of Xinjiang”, the massive western province of China that is known to its Muslim inhabitants as East Turkistan. Despite the lack of evidence of actual attacks inside China, the group has established training camps in Afghanistan and in Idlib province in Syria. The TIP has attempted to engage the wider Islamic world through a sophisticated and glitzy propaganda campaign.
This interview with the deputy leader of the group, Abdusalam at-Turkistani, covers the history of the ETIM/TIP, and its relationship with other jihadist groups like the Afghan Ṭaliban, al-Qaʿidah and HTS. It also includes the group’s opinion on China’s “counter- extremism” policy and its outreach to the international community, particularly the countries that share a border with Xinjiang province.
Mona Thakkar has a Master’s in West Asian Studies and her research focuses on tracking Salafi Jihadist groups and their financial networks.