Speaking during China's annual parliament session on Tuesday, Mr Zhang said there were "Uighurs
that have fled overseas and joined the Islamic State".
Every year during Ramadan, the imam gets busy when Uighurs
from Muslim majority district of Xinjiang flee to Almaty to be able to observe thee religious month.
To prevent unrest, China starts offering big bonuses to Uighurs
and other minorities for interracial marriages, otherwise discouraged by religious traditions
Chinese officials have noted mounting anxiety and resentment between the country's majority Han Chinese and Uighurs
since a knife attack in the southwestern city of Kunming on March 1 left 29 people dead and injured about 140 others.
are Muslims from the broad Central Asian border region of Xinjiang, some of whom have long sought independence from a Chinese government that has brutally oppressed them.
Slovakia had accepted three other Guantanamo prisoners in 2009 and allowed the resettlement of the Uighurs
after other countries refused because of pressure from the Chinese government, which has sought to take custody of the men.
Some nine million Uighurs
live in Xinjiang but constitute a minority in the region, which is dominated by the Han Chinese ethnic group.
A statement from the World Uyghur Congress, an exile group that Beijing has condemned, said that suspicions that Uighurs
were responsible could lead to stepped-up government repression.
China alleged that Pakistani-trained Uighur
terrorists from the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) (5) were responsible, while the World Uighur
Congress argued that if the attacks were conducted by Uighurs
, then it was only because they were brought to despair by "years of repression by the Chinese government" and without any other peaceful way to oppose the government.
say the July 5, 2009 violence was sparked when police cracked down on peaceful demonstrations against government inaction in the face of a factory brawl the month before in southern China in which two Uighur
migrant workers were reportedly killed.
So, while China does indeed face periodic upsurges in politically motivated violence by Uighurs
, one must ask why this is taking place.
The five were among 17 Uighurs
who had been cleared for release by the Bush and Obama administrations but could not be returned to their native China for fear of mistreatment.
The appeals court overturned a ruling by a federal judge a year ago that 17 Uighurs
held at Guantanamo since 2002 should be immediately released into this country.
have been stabbing us with needles," one of the men trying to push through the barriers said.