Meet the Elite U.S.-Trained Special Forces Chief Who Just Joined ISIS
In addition to an aggressive goatee, Gulmurod Khalimov has a certain set of skills. He commands Tajikistan’s special forces, trained and funded by American military whizzes. Or he did, before recently turning up in a YouTube video saying he’s gone to Syria to fight with the Islamic State.
Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov commanded the Central Asian nation’s special-purpose police known as OMON, used against criminals and militants. He disappeared in late April, prompting a search by Tajik police.
He reappeared Wednesday, vowing to bring jihad to Russia and the United States as he brandished a cartridge belt and sniper rifle, in a professionally made, 10-minute video clip posted in social networks.
An excerpt of that video, in Russian, is below:
“The video, allegedly made in Syria, says that Khalimov joined the jihadists in protest against government policies that do not allow namaz (canonical prayer) or the wearing of Islamic dress,” the video’s Russian source states.
The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor compiled some of Khalimov’s fun video soundbites:
“Listen, you dogs, the president and ministers,” Khalimov says in the video, “if only you knew how many boys, our brothers are here, waiting and yearning to return to reestablish sharia law there.”...
“Listen, you American pigs, I’ve been three times to America, and I saw how you train fighters to kill Muslims,” he said. “God willing, I will come with this weapon to your cities, your homes, and we will kill you.”
That’s gratitude for you, considering that the OMON, Khalimov’s SWAT-style special forces unit in Tajikistan, received millions of dollars annually from “Defense Department counterterrorism and counterdrug programs” for training and equipment, including “bullet-proof vests, special helmets, masks, binoculars,” and weapons. The U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan in 2013 proudly boasted “that Tajik OMON officers took training in the United States last year and showed high professionalism.”
One U.S. State Department cable in the Wikileaks trove, flagged by Eurasia expert Joshua Kucera, notes that Khalimov’s group was even allowed to run a security drill in 2009 at the U.S. embassy in Tajikistan: “The MVD’s elite Militia Detachment for Special Purposes (OMON) drill at the Embassy demonstrated an improved anti-terrorist response and confirmed OMON’s capacity after a change in leadership,” the cable reported.
Whether Khalimov personally benefitted from any of that training is unclear. But we’ll probably find out soon.
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