Tajikistan’s most high-profile Islamic State fighter has threatened to kill his brother back home and dismissed rumors he is a government mole on a secret mission inside the so-called caliphate.
Police special forces (OMON) commander Gulmurod Halimov’s shock defection last month to the Islamic State caused panic in Dushanbe. Authorities quickly blocked access to social media carrying his video, in which he condemned authoritarian President Emomali Rahmon and vowed “we are coming to you with slaughter.”
On June 18, Halimov appeared in another video published online. Lounging between two Tajik militants, and sporting a bushier beard than in his first video, Halimov responds to criticism from his older brother by threatening to cut off his head.
Saidmurod Halimov had denounced his brother’s decision to join the Islamic State in an interview with Radio Ozodi.
The five-minute video lacks the high-tech editing and graphics seen in his first clip.
Speaking – or rather ranting – in Tajik, Halimov tries to quell rumors that the Tajik security services sent him to kill 39-year-old militant leader Nusrat Nazarov. Also known as Abu Kholid Kulobi, Nazarov is something of a spokesman for Tajiks fighting with the Islamic State and boasted in January that 2,000 Tajiks are fighting in Iraq and Syria. He has not appeared in videos for a few weeks, leading to speculation about his demise. Last week, independent Tajik news agency Asia Plus, citing reports on Russian social network Odnoklassniki, suggested that Nazarov had been killed fighting near the Syrian city of Raqqa. Halimov does not mention the death when he refers to him in the latest video.
Halimov also takes aim at influential, government-sanctioned cleric Hoji Mirzo, who previously criticized the Islamic State. Halimov declares: "Ask him where in the Koran it is written that [children] under [age] 18 cannot go to the mosque.” He is referring to a 2011 law that bans Tajik children from praying in mosques. Mirzo, in Halimov’s eyes a puppet of the government, backed the law.
Internet users in Dushanbe told EurasiaNet.org that access to YouTube and Facebook was blocked once again, without explanation, since this second tape appeared. After Halimov’s first video, these and other social networks were blocked for almost two weeks.