Infighting over Distribution of New Uighur Magazine

The Uighur jihadist group “Islamic Party of Turkestan” (IPT) has published the second issue of its Arabic-language mouthpiece, Turkistan al-Islamiyya (Islamic Turkestan). The distribution of the magazine has become the subject of a bitter argument between the distribution company al-Fajr and the forum Madad al-Suyuf (MS), each accusing the other of having stolen the magazine. In reality the first to distribute the magazine was neither al-Fajr nor Madad al-Suyuf, but rather a Faloja forum member named Abdallah al-Mansur).

This is not the first “copyright controversy” involving Madad al-Suyuf. You will recall that MS directed similar accusations against Minbar al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad a few weeks ago. As Brynjar pointed out then, we didn’t use to see this type of bickering over copyright in the past. It is hard to say what these latest developments mean. It could simply be that MS is run by pedantic troublemakers. It could also be that the jihadi media world has now become so competitive that jihadi propagandists are feeling more possessive about their own stories, like journalists in mainstream media.

The latest argument also sheds some light on the way in which propaganda material is distributed. One of the things that surfaced in the forum debates was that the magazine had initially been sent by its editors to al-Fajr, who, for some reason did not distribute it immediately. Al-Fajr would later say they wanted to verify the authenticity of the material before distributing. When al-Fajr delayed, the magazine editors sent it to other distribution agents, one of whom may have been the abovementioned Abdallah al-Mansur, and another may have been MS. Several distributors thus had what they thought was exclusive material, hence the accusations.

Several questions remain. Why would al-Fajr doubt the authenticity of the magazine and take weeks to verify it? I have no idea. And why did the editors not post it themselves? One reason is that the IPT’s own website, the Pakistan-based www.tipawazionline.net, has been taken down (presumably at the request of Chinese authorities). They could of course have posted it directly on the forums, but they probably wanted the extra attention that comes with an al-Fajr endorsement, much for the same reasons people like myself still bother submitting op-eds to newspapers when I could post them on a blog.

The magazine itself is very interesting and is definitely worth examining more closely for those who have the time. It features the first of a two-part interview with IPT leader Abd al-Haqq Turkistani, in which he outlines the history of the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM, see also here) up until 1998. The follow-up part will presumably focus on the more recent history of the movement and offer more details on the precise organizational relationship between ETIM and IPT, an issue which has puzzled analysts since the IPT’s appearance last spring. The magazine also features an article (and a rare picture) on the famous ETIM leader Hasan Makhdum who was killed in Pakistan in 2003.

Document (Arabic): 02-13-09-faloja-first-post-of-turkestan-al-islamiyya
Document (Arabic): 02-19-09-madad-turkestan-al-islamiyya
Document (Arabic): 02-19-09-faloja-fajr-posting-turkestan-al-islamiyya-1
Document (Arabic): 02-20-09-faloja-evidence-that-madad-stole-turkestan-al-islamiyya
Document (Arabic): 02-20-09-why-did-fajr-publish-after-madad

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