15:07 GMT +317 December 2017
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    Gulmurod Khalimov (R)

    Daesh Threats to Tajikistan: Bullying Tactics or Real Danger?

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    As Tajikistan is getting ready to celebrate its 25th Independence Day, the country's security services are investigating threats made by Daesh to the country's servicemen; military experts tell Sputnik that it would be unwise to simply dismiss such threats.

    Tajikistan's security services are investigating unspecified threats purportedly made by a former commander of the Central Asian nation's elite police force who has defected to Daesh (Islamic State/IS/ISIL).

    Reports emerged this week that servicemen in Tajikistan, a country bordering Afghanistan and seen by the West and Russia as a possible conduit both for militant Islamists and drug runners, started receiving text messages on their mobile phones in the name of Gulmurod Khalimov.

    In these messages, he promised to "congratulate" them on the 25th Independence Day anniversary which is celebrated on September 9.

    "This is Daesh using bullying tactics in Tajikistan," Alexander Knyazev, director of the Russian Institute of CIS Countries, told Sputnik.

    "Even without any involvement of Daesh terrorists the situation in Tajikistan remains highly remonstrative, socially and politically intense," he said.

    "The terrorists are using very effective bullying tactics which may achieve their purpose. And the purpose of the terrorists is to threaten the people, spread panic and set-up an atmosphere of tension and distrust," Knyazev said.

    Igor Korotchenko, a member of the Russian Defense Ministry’s civic council and editor-in-chief at the Natsionalnaya Oborona ("National Defense") magazine suggests that the threat may be real.

    Moreover, the expert said there is a real need for cooperation between the Tajik and Russian intelligence to ensure security on the day of the celebrations.

    "Any threats by terrorist organizations should be treated seriously," he told Sputnik.

    "We should take into consideration that there is a Russian military base in Tajikistan and the center of optoelectronic intelligence. Hence we should undertake additional measures together with the authorities of the republic to prevent any possible terrorist attacks," he said.

    Khalimov is a former Tajik special operations colonel, police commander, and military sniper. He was the commander of a police special operations unit in the Ministry of Interior of Tajikistan, or OMON, used against militants in the Central Asian nation.

    Khalimov had been trained at US military training bases: in 2003, he went to Baton Rouge in Louisiana, to undergo special training with the US Special Forces.

    In 2008, he also underwent special training, again at Baton Rouge.

    From 2003 to 2008, he had special training in America at a Blackwater military base.

    In April 2015 he vanished from Tajikistan but later resurfaced in a YouTube video saying that he had joined Daesh.

    Earlier in August the US State Department offered a reward of up to $3 million for information leading to the location, arrest, and/or conviction of Gulmurod Khalimov.

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    Tags:
    terrorist attack, Independence Day, terrorist threat, Daesh, Igor Korotchenko, Alexander Knyazev, Gulmurod Khalimov, Russia, Tajikistan
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