The power vacuum that formed at the top of the Islamic State has been promptly filled, after former Tajik Special Forces colonel Gulmurod Khalimov became the top ISIS battlefield commander in Iraq, after defecting last year and swearing jihad against the West.
Khalimov is set to take the position vacated by Abu Omar al-Shishani, also known as Omar the Chechen, who was killed in the Iraqi city of Shirqat, south of Mosul. in early July and whom the Pentagon described as Islamic State’s “minister of war.”
What makes the ascent of Khalimov particularly embarrassing for the US is that The former paramilitary unit commander of the Tajikistan armed forces received his battlefield training from American advisors and even came to the United States on several occasions to receive special counterterrorism training through the US State Department’s Diplomatic Security/Anti-Terrorism Assistance program.
Then last year, Khalimov defected to ISIS where the Daesh forces in Iraq welcomed the new addition to their ranks with open arms especially since he was acquainted with US military and intelligence tactics. Subsequently, the American trained former Special Forces colonel Gulmurod Khalimov received a promotion within the terrorist organization, and has become the group’s Iraqi battlefield commander just weeks after
ISIS refused to officially announce that Khalimov had been promoted to the top ranks of the terrorist organization out of concern that he would become a high-priority target of US led strikes in Iraq, but Iraq’s Al Sumaria news agency exposed the promotion through a source in Nineveh province.
The placement of Khalimov to lead the terror organization’s Iraqi forces is a bit unusual for the Islamic State, who normally maintain only “second and third ranking commanders who lead militants in [Nineveh] province,” according to the Al Sumaria source. These Daesh militants tend to keep a low-profile to prevent being “detected and destroyed” by US Forces who remain in a support function in Iraq explained the source.
Khalimov’s high profile defection has understandably been a concern for US officials for some time, with the US State Department labeling him a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 on September 29, 2015 designed to prevent the transfer of currency to individuals known to hold leadership roles in terror organizations. The United Nations Security Council Resolutions and al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee further added Khalimov, who is also a fugitive wanted by the Government of Tajikstan, to its sanctions list in February 2016.
In any case, as has so often been the case in the recent past, a special ops military expert by the US, is now engaged in deadly combat with his former teacher; further adding to the paradox, his weapons and supplies have also been provided by the US: an odd outcome which, as many have pointed out, benefits just one group: the shareholders of the US military-industrial complex, which always wins no matter who, or how many lives are lost.