The Islamic State, the jihadist group better known as ISIS, is planning to expand its holy war to northwest China's restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, reports the Chinese-language magazine Phoenix Weekly.
ISIS, which claims religious authority over all Muslims across the world, is currently facing US air strikes in Iraq aimed at protecting American diplomats and religious minorities from what US president Barack Obama called a "potential act of genocide."
On July 4, US Independence Day, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released a video detailing the group's explansion plans, declaring that he planned to seek vengeance against those who took away the rights of Muslims in 20 countries across the world, of which China was placed first. Other areas mentioned included India, Palestine, Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, and Caucasus.
"By God, we will take revenge. Even if it takes a while, we will take revenge and we will retaliate doubly and more," Al-Baghdadi said, adding, "the day will come when Muslims will be walking everywhere as noble masters. Those who dare to stand up against them will be disciplined and all hands that reach out to them will be cut off."
In the video, Al-Baghdadi referenced China and Xinjiang numerous times, criticizing Beijing's policy against Muslims in the region and asking all Chinese Muslims to plead allegiance to him.
Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority, who have long accused the Chinese government of suppressing their religious and cultural freedoms. Uyghurs have been largely blamed for a spate of terror attacks in and out of the region in recent years, including a riot late last month which authorities say led to 100 deaths and over 200 arrests. It is the most violent incident to rock the region since the infamous 2009 riots in the capital of Urumqi that left 197 people dead and another 1,700 injured.
China's minister of Public Security, Guo Shengkun, has visited Xinjiang three times this year alone to oversee counter-terrorism and social stability campaigns.