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U.S. Confirms Training Tajik Ex-Police Commander Who Joined IS

  • RFE/RL

Counterterrorism experts said Gulmorad Halimov's use of Russian is meant to draw in recruits from other Central Asian countries.

Counterterrorism experts said Gulmorad Halimov's use of Russian is meant to draw in recruits from other Central Asian countries.

Tajikistan authorities say they have opened an investigation into a high-ranking U.S.-trained police official who allegedly has joined the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.

Former OMON special forces commander Gulmorad Halimov has appeared in an online video in black IS garb, saying that he participated in programs on U.S. soil three times.

State Department spokeswoman Pooja Jhunjhunwala has confirmed this claim to CNN.

"From 2003-2014 Colonel Halimov participated in five counterterrorism training courses in the United States and in Tajikistan," Jhunjhunwala said.

Halimov, who speaks in Russian in the video, says that what he saw during his training sessions turned him against his sponsors.

"Listen, you American pigs: I've been to America three times. I saw how you train soldiers to kill Muslims," he says.

Then, he threatens, "we will find your towns, we will come to your homes, and we will kill you."

Counterterrorism experts said Halimov's use of Russian is meant to draw in recruits from other Central Asian countries.

In the video, Halimov also blows apart a tomato with a sniper rifle from a distance of approximately 25 meters.

Tajik Prosecutor-General Manuchehr Makhmudzod announced on May 29 that a probe had been opened into Halimov's activities.

State Department's Jhunjhunwala told CNN that Khalimov and other members of his unit were recommended for the program by Tajikistan's government.

"All appropriate Leahy vetting was undertaken in advance of this training," said spokeswoman Jhunjhunwala.

She was referring to a process through which the U.S. government implements a human rights law that prohibits the Departments of State and Defense from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity.

It is known as the "Leahy Law" and is named after its principal sponsor, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

With reporting by AP and CNN
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