The Broken Cross, a new Arabic-language documentary, was launched and screened in Damascus on September 2 before a large audience of religious and diplomatic figures, including journalists and media. The film exposes the activities of a largely unknown (in the West) Islamic group, the Turkestan Islamist Party.
According to its director, Najdat Ismail Anzour:
This film looks at some truths concerning the Syrian tragedy. It was produced to highlight an obscure and painful angle that no one has addressed: the exodus of our loved ones of Christian faith, from their towns, their villages and their monasteries in the governorate of Idleb, which fell to the hands of armed terrorist gangs led by the Turkestan Islamist Party ....
[T]here is nothing more cruel and bitter than uprooting a human being from his land, his home, his environment, his memory and everything he loves and makes him proud. This, unfortunately, is what happened to 50,000 Syrian Christians who lived in peace, friendship, and deep harmony with all components of Syrian society. This is an undisputed and striking fact of the Christian presence in Syria for more than 2000 years.
Also speaking before the Damascus screening on Sept. 2, Dr. Kamal Jafa, a geopolitical economist living in Aleppo, also emphasized the
crimes of the most dangerous international terrorist organization [Turkestan Islamist Party], which traveled thousands of kilometers from the Chinese Far East after having committed dozens of massacres in its motherland, crossed Afghanistan, Iran, Chechnya, Libya, before arriving in Syria with the support of the most important intelligence services in the world ... . The Turkestan Islamist Party arrived in Syria in 2011 and directly participated in the first two massacres ... .
Not All Uyghurs Are Victims
Although the Turkestan Islamist Party is all but unknown in the West, apparently it played a pivotal role in the terrorization of Syria:
Once the reputation of its fierce fighting and appalling crimes against the towns and villages of Idlib governorate were well established, the states leading the war on Syria, particularly the United States of America and Turkey, took the decision to lead 3,000 fighters from this party towards what was considered the great epic of Aleppo where they dominated the other armed groups pushed to invade this city ... .
Not only is this particular jihadist group all but unheard of in the West, but, according to Dr. Jafa, it has become strong enough to threaten nations far beyond the Middle East:
Now we find ourselves facing a problem even more dangerous for the world. Indeed, they have transformed into a kind of "Blackwater" of the Middle East that can be sent anywhere, especially since the United States removed, in 2020, the organization of the Turkestan Islamist Party from the list terrorist organizations. Therefore, they now have the freedom to move in any geographical area of the world ... .
[T]oday, they are more uplifted than ever, especially since they created the organizations of Al-Ansar and Al-Achbale (the lion cubs) to consolidate their fighting forces. Hence a new generation of terrorists who will destroy the whole world if this program in Syria is not put an end to, because their emirate has regrettably transformed into a new "Tora Bora."
Desecrating and Demolishing Churches
Three observations based on this new documentary and the remarks concerning it.
First, the atrocities experienced by the Christians of Idlib — massacres, beheadings, rapes, enslavement, and the constant desecration of churches — were indeed horrific, and it is good that a documentary film on the topic has been released.
Second, the one jihadist group that now appears to have been most responsible for these initial atrocities — the Turkestan Islamist Party — is also the one least mentioned or recognized in the West, where only "ISIS" (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) seems to be remembered. Of course, and as usual, there have been, are, and always will be any number of jihadist groups around the world, as they all drink from the same fount — Islam.
Perhaps the fact that the terrorist Turkestan Islamist Party consists mostly of Uyghurs — who are always and everywhere presented as innocent victims of Chinese oppression — is one reason for the reticence. Showing that Uyghurs also exhibit the same Islamic hostility for non-Muslims and engage in jihadist activities against Christians and other minorities throws a wrench in any sympathy building efforts. A little more on this group, from a "mainstream source," follows:
Syrian Churches have been demolished by Turkistan Islamic Party Uyghur fighters, who exalted in the acts of destruction ... . In Jisr al-Shughur a Church's cross had a TIP flag placed on top of it after the end of the battle. The Uzbek group Katibat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (Tavhid va Jihod katibasi) released a video featuring themselves and the Uyghur Turkistan Islamic Party attacking and desecrating Christian Churches in Jisr al-Shughur. Jabhat al Nusra and Turkistan Islamic Party fighters were accused of displacing Christian residents of rural Jisr al-Shughour ... . Camps training children for Jihad are being run by the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria. Uyghur child soldiers being instructed in Sharia and training with guns were depicted in a video released by TIP.
Youtube Covers Up Islamist Atrocities
I actually watched the Arabic language video made of these jihadists desecrating numerous churches and breaking crosses. When I posted it on Youtube, so that Western audiences might also be made aware, Youtube took it down and locked my account.
The final observation concerns allegations of U.S. complicity. These, of course, are true — especially under the Obama and Biden administrations. Under the former, when the so-called "Arab Spring" began, the U.S. heartily supported "freedom fighters" everywhere — in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, etc. Before long, however, these great "liberators" were revealed as jihadist terrorists with a penchant for killing Christians and destroying churches.
At this point, it's axiomatic: Whichever Muslim nation the U.S. intervenes in for "democratic" purposes, Christian minorities are the first to experience horrific treatment. Iraq is the posterchild of this phenomenon.
Raymond Ibrahim, author of Defenders of the West and Sword and Scimitar is the Distinguished Senior Shillman Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and the Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.