Uzbek militants fighting with the Islamic State (IS) militant group in the Syrian town of Kobani made a “patriotic” propaganda video address inside the town, RFE/RL’s Uzbek service reports.
The video appears to have been shot on a cell phone and was uploaded to the Internet on October 17. The militant who is shown in the video presents himself as a defender and liberator of disenfranchised Kurds in Kobani. He is filmed helping an elderly Kurdish woman and giving her food.
Although the IS militant on camera speaks Arabic, two different militants are heard speaking in Uzbek, one of whom is apparently the cameraman.
The Arabic speaker says, “Here is this elderly Kurdish woman. Her children abandoned her without food and water. We are giving her water, food, and protection.”
An Uzbek speaker is then heard saying, “We should take this and put it on the Internet. Let the infidels take a look!”
The short clip, unlike other recent publications (such as the video report from Kobani by IS’s British hostage John Cantlie), is not part of IS’s official propaganda campaign in the northern Syrian town.
It is markedly different from other photographs and commentaries about Kobani posted by IS fighters from the Russian Federation and former Soviet states, which have focused on the militants’ brutality in Kobani.
In this clip, the Arabic speaker and the Uzbek militants are keen to portray themselves as helping the local noncombatant population.
The video is also the first evidence that Uzbek militants are fighting with IS in Kobani. Other video and photographic evidence has shown Chechen and Azerbaijani IS gunmen participating in the assault on the town.
RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service reported that they had spoken to an Uzbek militant in Syria, named as Abu Usman, who said that there were hundreds of Central Asian militants fighting in Syria.
In March, the main Uzbek group in Syria, Sabri’s Jamaat, pledged an oath of allegiance to IS and its military commander, the ethnic Chechen Umar Shishani. The majority Uzbek Sabri’s Jamaat also contains Tajiks, Daghestanis, and Chechens.
The leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Usmon Ghazi, has also pledged its support for IS.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk