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'Truly repentant' jihadi regrets his brush with terrorism


Updated: 2015-07-20 15:22:47

Mardan Maolahong, a former member of a terrorist cell, lost his lower right leg in combat.

Before he joined, Mardan was an ambitious businessman in Xinjiang. "I was interested in the fashion industry and wanted to set up my own brand featuring traditional Uygur designs. I hoped that one day I would even export them to Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan," he told Xinjiang TV when filmed at a detention center in the region.

However, just as he was starting his business, an uncle called from overseas and asked Mardan to join him, saying he knew a good place to study religion and the tuition was free.

As a talented linguist, Mardan was excited by the idea of learning a new language, which could prove useful when conducting business, and was also eager to learn more about Islam, so he joined his uncle with whom he had always been close.

Mardan didn't name the country he went to, but said that when he arrived at the "school", which in reality was a terrorist training camp, he was immediately scared.

"The living conditions there were even worse than in the average village in Xinjiang. We went to markets where everyone was armed, and I didn't feel safe at all. Sometimes people even started fighting among themselves at the market," he said.

The disparity between what he had imagined and reality made Mardan want to leave immediately, but his uncle and other members of the cell forced him to stay. He eventually joined the group after being brainwashed and radicalized for more than 10 days.

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