Gulmurod Khalimov

Tajik citizen Gulmurod Khalimov was a U.S.- and U.N.-designated terrorist and ISIS’s minister of war. He was appointed to the position in September 2016 following the July 2016 death of minister of war Omar al-Shishani. Khalimov operated out of Mosul, and was believed to be ISIS’s top-ranking official in that city, second only to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.“Isis: US-trained Tajik special forces chief Gulmurod Khalimov becomes Isis 'war minister,’” International Business Times, September 6, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/isis-us-trained-tajik-special-forces-chief-gulmurod-khalimov-becomes-isis-war-minister-1579966;
Gareth Browne, “Isis ‘minister of war’ is killed by allied airstrike in Mosul,” Times (London), April 15, 2017, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/isis-minister-of-war-is-killed-by-allied-airstrike-in-mosul-wwtdp388x.
Before joining ISIS, Khalimov commanded Tajikistan’s elite OMON paramilitary police force. He disappeared from Tajikistan in the spring of 2015, surfacing one month later as the star of an ISIS propaganda video.James Kilner, “Missing Tajikistan Police Chief Defects to the Islamic State,” Daily Telegraph (London), May 28, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/tajikistan/11636529/Missing-Tajikistan-police-chief-defects-to-the-Islamic-State.html;
“Last Blow to Tajik Tourism? Tajik Police Chief Joins ISIS to Kill Americans,” ETurbo News, May 29, 2015, http://www.eturbonews.com/59620/last-blow-tajik-tourism-tajik-police-chief-joins-isis-kill-ameri.
He was targeted and killed in an airstrike in Mosul in April 2017. It was the third time that Khalimov had been the target of an airstrike in recent months, according to the Iraqi military.Gareth Browne, “Isis ‘minister of war’ is killed by allied airstrike in Mosul,” Times (London), April 15, 2017, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/isis-minister-of-war-is-killed-by-allied-airstrike-in-mosul-wwtdp388x.

Prior to joining ISIS, Khalimov was a highly decorated Tajik soldier and was once photographed alongside Tajik President Emomali Rahmon. He trained with U.S. forces, traveling to the United States to train with Blackwater (now Academi) and the U.S. Army three times in the 2000s.Farangis Najibullah and Mumin Ahmadi, “Top Tajik Cop Disappears, Sparking Alarming Reports,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, May 12, 2015, http://www.rferl.org/content/tajikistan-top-cop-goes-missing-mysteriously-islamic-state-rumors/27012191.html.

Khalimov was a highly decorated Tajik soldier and was once photographed alongside Tajik President Emomali Rahmon. Khalimov traveled to the United States at least three times to train with the U.S. Army and the private American military firm Blackwater (now Academi).Farangis Najibullah and Mumin Ahmadi, “Top Tajik Cop Disappears, Sparking Alarming Reports,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, May 12, 2015, http://www.rferl.org/content/tajikistan-top-cop-goes-missing-mysteriously-islamic-state-rumors/27012191.html; Blackwater Agency website, accessed September 6, 2016, https://blackwaterus.com/.

In an effort to silence mounting questions, on May 11 the Tajik Interior Ministry reported that Khalimov was on an official business trip to Turkey. Then, on May 19, Turkish authorities reported they had arrested Khalimov while attempting to cross into Syria using a fake passport.Edward Lemon, “Tajikistan Police Commander Says He’s Joined Islamic State,” EurasiaNet, May 28, 2015, http://www.eurasianet.org/node/73626.

Despite reports of Khalimov’s arrest, on May 28 ISIS released a 10-minute Russian-language video in which Khalimov revealed his motives for joining ISIS and his 19-year career with OMON.Edward Lemon, “Tajikistan Police Commander Says He’s Joined Islamic State,” EurasiaNet, May 28, 2015, http://www.eurasianet.org/node/73626.

In the video, Khalimov argued that the Tajik government is against Islam.Edward Lemon, “Tajikistan Police Commander Says He’s Joined Islamic State,” EurasiaNet, May 28, 2015, http://www.eurasianet.org/node/73626;
Catherine Putz, “What Not to Wear in Tajikistan: The Hijab,” Diplomat, April 4, 2015, http://thediplomat.com/2015/04/what-not-to-wear-in-tajikistan-the-hijab/.
Khalimov also threatened Americans, Russians, and the Tajik government, and called on Muslim Tajiks living in Russia and Tajikistan to immigrate to ISIS territory. The video ends with Khalimov shooting a tomato from a distance.Edward Lemon, “Tajikistan Police Commander Says He’s Joined Islamic State,” EurasiaNet, May 28, 2015, http://www.eurasianet.org/node/73626.

In early June 2015, Tajikistan issued an international arrest warrant for Khalimov on the grounds of high treason and illegal participation in military actions abroad.“Tajik OMON Commander Wanted For Treason,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, June 3, 2015, http://www.rferl.org/content/tajikistan-police-commander-islamic-state-treason/27051207.html. Khalimov is one of hundreds of Tajiks fighting with ISIS.Edward Lemon, “Report: Top Tajik Officer Arrested Trying to Join Islamic State,” EurasiaNet, May 19, 2015, http://www.eurasianet.org/node/73501. In September 2015, the U.S. Department of State designated Khalimov as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.“Designations of Foreign Terrorist Fighters,” U.S. Department of State, September 29, 2015, www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/09/247433.htm. The European Union and the United Nations added Khalimov to their al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates list in spring 2016.“Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/307 of 3 March 2016 amending for the 243rd time Council Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 imposing certain specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities associated with the Al Qaida network,” EUR-Lex, March 3, 2016, eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg_impl/2016/307/oj. In late August 2016, the U.S. Department of State added Khalimov to its Rewards for Justice Program, offering up to $3 million for information that would bring him “to justice.”“Gulmurod Khalimov: Up to $3 Million Reward,” U.S. Rewards for Justice, August 29, 2016, https://www.rewardsforjustice.net/english/gulmurod_khalimov.html.

Soon after Khalimov’s April 2017 death, an Iraqi military source told London’s Times that Khalimov had been responsible for planning ISIS’s defense of Mosul, and had helped to organize hundreds of car bombings against the anti-ISIS coalition there.Gareth Browne, “Isis ‘minister of war’ is killed by allied airstrike in Mosul,” Times (London), April 15, 2017, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/isis-minister-of-war-is-killed-by-allied-airstrike-in-mosul-wwtdp388x.

European Union

March 3, 2016

The European Union added “Gulmurod Khalimov” to the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee’s list.“Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/307 of 3 March 2016 amending for the 243rd time Council Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 imposing certain specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities associated with the Al Qaida network,” EUR-Lex, March 3, 2016,eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg_impl/2016/307/oj.

United Nations

February 29, 2016

The U.N. Security Council added “Gulmurod Khalimov” to its ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List.“Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Adds 12 Names to Its Sanctions List,” U.N. Security Council, February 29, 2016, www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12266.doc.htm.

United States

September 29, 2015

The U.S. State Department designated “Gulmurod Khalimov” as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to Executive Order 13224.“Designations of Foreign Terrorist Fighters,” U.S. Department of State, September 29, 2015, www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/09/247433.htm.

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