Gulmurod Khalimov

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Gulmurod Khalimov
Birth nameGulmurod Khalimov
Born(1975-05-14)14 May 1975
Varzob, Tajik SSR, Soviet Union
Died8 September 2017(2017-09-08) (aged 42) (according to Russian military sources)
Deir ez-Zor, Syria
Allegiance Tajikistan (1993–2015)
 Islamic State (2015–17)
Service/branchMinistry of Internal Affairs
RankLieutenant colonel (Tajikistan)
War minister (ISIL)
Commands heldOMON (Tajikistan)[1]
Military of ISIL
Battles/warsTajikistan insurgency
Syrian Civil War

Gulmurod Salimovich Khalimov (Tajik: Гулмурод Салимович Ҳалимов) is a Tajik and Islamist military commander. A lieutenant-colonel when commander of the police special forces of the Interior Ministry of Tajikistan until 2015, he then defected to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[2][3] In September 2016, he was reported to have been appointed as the minister of war of ISIL in place of Abu Omar al-Shishani; his appointment had not been announced by ISIL for fears that he might be targeted in airstrikes by the anti-ISIL coalition.[4] On 8 September 2017, Khalimov was allegedly killed during a Russian airstrike in Deir ez-Zor. However, recent reports, indicate that he is in Idlib and has lost his position as the IS "minister of war.[5][6] The U.S. has not confirmed Khamilov's death and he remains the subject of a $3,000,000 bounty by the Rewards for Justice Program.[7]


Early life[edit]

He was born 14 May 1975 in Varzob, Tajikistan, then part of the Soviet Union.[8]

Service with the Tajik security forces[edit]

Khalimov eventually joined the Tajik security forces, was trained as sniper[9] and rose to lead the Tajik OMON special forces;[1] in this position, he was considered to be "one of the best trained officers in the country". He helped the government to repress Islamist extremists during the Tajikistan insurgency.[2] From 2003 to 2014, Khalimov participated in five counterterrorism training courses in the United States and in Tajikistan, through the United States Department of State's Diplomatic Security/Anti-Terrorism Assistance program.[10]

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant[edit]

Khalimov disappeared in late April 2015 and resurfaced on 28 May 2015 in an ISIL video.[11] Although hundreds of Tajiks had already joined ISIL by this point, Khalimov's defection was an "unprecedented case" due to his being a successful, high profile officer and part of the establishment[2] rather than the poor, from whom Islamist groups mostly recruit. According to regional expert Deirdre Tynan, Khalimov's defection was nevertheless symptomatic, as "there is an element of doubt in people within the [Tajik] civil and security services about what is the trajectory of their countries" and increasing support for radical religious ideologies.[1] Khalimov was the most prominent of the more than 2,000 Tajiks reported to have joined ISIS.[12]

After joining ISIL, Khalimov travelled to Syria, where he was reportedly appointed war minister, and became an important recruiter for the group. In July 2017, four of his relatives in Tajikistan were killed and three arrested by security forces; according to the government, they were ISIL supporters.[9]

Tajik reaction[edit]

Tajik Prosecutor-General Manuchehr Makhmudzod announced on 29 May 2015 that a probe had been opened into Khalimov's activities. The Prosecutor-General's Office said on June 3 that Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov was wanted for crimes including high treason and illegal participation in military actions abroad. "Acting for mercenary means, he joined the international terrorist organization calling itself Islamic State," the statement said.[13][14]

US and UN sanctions[edit]

On 29 September 2015 he was made subject to sanctions by the United States Department of State.[15] He was also made subject to sanctions by the United Nations Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee on 29 February 2016.[16]

In August 2016, the United States Department of State issued a $3 million USD bounty on Khalimov under its Rewards for Justice program.[17]

Reported death[edit]

On 8 September 2017, Khalimov was allegedly killed during a Russian airstrike in Deir ez-Zor, possibly along with Abu Muhammad al-Shimali, with unconfirmed reports of the attack using Russia's largest non-nuclear bomb.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Roth, Andrew (30 May 2015). "Police Commander From Tajikistan Appears in ISIS Video". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Tajikistan special forces chief Gulmurod Khalimov 'joins IS'". BBC News. BBC. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  3. ^ Tharoor, Ishaan (28 May 2015). "The U.S.-trained commander of Tajikistan's special forces has joined the Islamic State". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  4. ^ International Business Times (6 September 2016). "Isis: US-trained Tajik special forces chief Gulmurod Khalimov becomes Isis 'war minister'". Yahoo! News. Yahoo!. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  5. ^ "S/2019/570 - e - S/2019/570".
  6. ^ a b Suchkov, Maxim A. (11 September 2017). "Don't let Islamic State slip the noose in Syria". Al-Monitor. Jamal Daniel News. Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Gulmurod Khalimov". Rewards for Justice. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Counter Terrorism Designations". U.S. Department of the Treasury. 29 September 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  9. ^ a b "IS 'minister of war' killed in Syria air attack, claims Russia". Middle East Eye. 8 September 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  10. ^ McConnell, Dugald; Todd, Brian (30 May 2015). "Man who joined ISIS trained in the US". CNN. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  11. ^ Solovyov, Dmitry (28 May 2015). "Commander of elite Tajik police force defects to Islamic State". Reuters. Almaty. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Tajikistan's crackdown on observant Muslims intensifies". The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Limited. 21 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  13. ^ "U.S. Confirms Training Tajik Ex-Police Commander Who Joined IS". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 30 May 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  14. ^ "Tajik OMON Commander Wanted For Treason". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 3 June 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Designations of Foreign Terrorist Fighters". U.S. Department of State. Bureau of Public Affairs. 29 September 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Gulmurod Khalimov". United Nations Security Council. United Nations and the Security Council Affairs Division. 29 February 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  17. ^ Ernst, Douglas (31 August 2016). "State Dept. offers $3M reward for U.S.-trained Tajik officer who went rogue for ISIS". Washington Times. Retrieved 31 August 2016.