Skip to main content

$3m reward for US-trained Tajik Islamic State militant

Gulmorod Khalimov, who attended five US-funded counter-terrorism courses, was later designated a 'terrorist' by the US
A still from an IS video showing Khalimov issuing threats (IS)

The United States on Tuesday slapped a $3 million bounty on a former Tajik special operations commander who received American training but later defected to the Islamic State group.

Gulmorod Khalimov, now 41, is a former colonel in Tajikistan's interior ministry police special operations unit and a trained sniper. Last year he declared allegiance to the IS group.

According to US officials, between 2003 and 2014 Khalimov attended five training courses in the United States and Tajikistan paid for by a US State Department anti-terrorism program.

In May 2015, he appeared in a video distributed online, bearded and in a black head scarf, bearing a sniper rifle and vowing to bring "jihad" to Russia, Tajikistan and the United States. 

“Listen, you American pigs: I’ve been to America three times. I saw how you train soldiers to kill Muslims,” he says in Russian, according to CNN. “You taught your soldiers how to surround and attack, in order to exterminate Islam and Muslims.”

“God willing, we will find your towns, we will come to your homes, and we will kill you."

It was not clear where the video was shot but the footage includes a palm tree and reports have suggested that he travelled to eastern Syria, heart of the so-called IS "caliphate."

The United States designated Khalimov a "global terrorist" in September last year and on Tuesday added his name and a $3 million bounty to its "Rewards for Justice" program.

The State Department described him as a "key leader" of the Islamic State and as a recruiter for the jihadist group, which has seized cities in Syria and Iraq while seeking to inspire attacks worldwide.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.