Holy war scam exposed as Uygurs are sent home (China Daily)

Several stowaways are repatriated from Thailand back to China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region on July 9. [Photo/CCTV News]

URUMQI – Several stowaways repatriated from Thailand back to China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region on July 9 are claiming they were deceived and manipulated into becoming tools for human smugglers by overseas terrorist groups.

Abdulniyaz Yasin, 43, was among 109 people repatriated from Thailand last month. Prior to leaving Xinjiang, he had 30 hectares of crops with an annual income of more than 100,000 yuan ($16,340). He returned home with nothing.

During his nerve-wracking journey, he paid great sums to avoid authorities, at one point starving in the woods for three days.

“I paid the organizers 30,000 yuan when I crossed the border, another 9,000 yuan in Vietnam and $3,600 in Cambodia,” said Yasin, who sold his land and planned to join the jihad, or holy war, after being recruited by a fellow villager.

“Now I have no money, nor land,” he said.

Abdulniyaz Yasin is illiterate. He cannot fill out an application or understand the Islamic doctrines.

“I took his words for granted and dreamed of joining the ‘jihad’ in order to live a heavenly life, but instead lost my home,” he said.

“They were all cheaters, just in it for money,” said Yasin.

Another man, Muhamad Imin, 29, said he paid brokers 75,000 yuan, which his father had given him to start a business in the regional capital Urumqi. He too ended up stranded in a forest in Thailand.

Some of the deportees said they had been persuaded by fellow villagers to travel to Syria with the promise of a place in heaven if they took part in jihad.

“A man called Abbabakire told me I would go to the Jahannam (Islamic concept of Hell) if I did not join the ‘jihad,'” said Abbas Ehet.

“He told me if I sacrifice and take part in the jihad I would go to heaven,” said Ehet. “I believed in him.”

“They told us if we were arrested in Thailand, we should say we were from Turkey,” he said.

Several stowaways are repatriated from Thailand back to China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region on July 9. [Photo/CCTV News]

Muhamad Imin, together with several accomplices, intentionally turned themselves in to the police in Thailand.

“One of us received a text message saying if you told police you are from Turkey, you would be sent to Turkey,” said Imin. “So we sought out the police.”

The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a U.N.-listed terrorist group, rescued the Chinese smugglers through “diplomatic means” after they were caught by Thai police, said Abudukadir Yapuquan, a key member of ETIM, in a recent interview on a Turkish TV channel.

“Those repatriated from Thailand had inextricable links with ETIM and international anti-China forces, who intended to transport them to Syria via Turkey to join ISIS and carry out ‘jihad,'” said Gao Zhaoyi, a police officer with the regional public security department.

Several of those being returned to China attacked police as they were escorted to their flight home, fearful they would face execution on return.

Quddus Tohtiyusup was among them. He attacked police officers at the airport in Thailand after hearing the rumor. He suffered a head injury after scuffling with police.

He remained terrified after he returned to Urumqi, refusing to get out of the vehicle. Soon after talking with police he relaxed.

“The police treated us well and took me to see the doctor,” he said, adding that his wounds are healing.

Most of the repatriates are being detained in Urumqi, where they have received quality medical care and meals, according to the regional public security department.

Two of those repatriated, who told police detailed accounts about how they fled abroad and had only minor criminal offences Thailand, were allowed to return home.

“I thought I would never have a chance to go back home and see my parents,” said Azgul, who was allowed to return to her hometown.

Those who were deceived by the human smugglers and fled abroad will be handed over to authorities in their hometown for education, said Chen Zhuang, deputy head of the regional public security department.

The smugglers will be penalized in accordance with the law, said Chen.