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Former Tajik officer joining Islamic State charged with high treason

June 03, 2015, 11:00 UTC+3 DUSHANBE

The former commander of Tajik Interior Ministry’s riot police has been put on the international wanted list

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Tajikistan's riot police officer

Tajikistan's riot police officer

© ITAR-TASS/Sergey Zhukov

DUSHANBE, June 3. /TASS/. The former commander of Tajik Interior Ministry’s OMON riot police, Gulmurod Khalimov, has been put on the international wanted list and charged in absentia with high treason for joining the Islamic State, says an official report of the Tajik General Prosecutor’s Office.

"Criminal proceedings have been launched against Khalimov on accusations of high treason, participation in a criminal group, as well as in armed conflicts or military operations on the territory of other states," the report said.

Last week’s reports said the OMON commander, who mysteriously disappeared on April 23, emerged in Syria among Islamic State militants.

A video posted to YouTube last Wednesday showed Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov in Muslim disguise and surrounded by a group of new allies. He is heard speaking good Russian, explaining that his decision was prompted by certain rules of the Tajik Interior Ministry, including a ban on wearing Muslim clothes and having five daily Muslim prayers.

"It has been established in a preliminary investigation that embarking on the path of treason, violating the loyalty oath of a Tajik officer and abandoning his family, Gulmurod Khalimov fled Tajikistan for mercenary motives and joined the international terrorist organization calling itself Islamic State," the statement continued.

The 40-year-old OMON colonel, father to eight children, took charge of the special police force three years ago, and has several state awards.

The Supreme Court of Tajikistan has branded Islamic State a terrorist organization, banning its activity in the country.

Prohibition was imposed at the end of April, but was been made public only after news about Khalimov’s defection.

Tajik security sources told TASS of "a wide and ramified network of extremist religious and terrorist underground" existing in the country.

Alone this year, the republic has seen three court trials, held as a rule behind closed doors, in which more than 70 members of extremist organisations have been sentenced to long terms in jail.

As for Islamic State, Tajik authorities guarantee that nationals who have repented and voluntarily returned to the homeland after taking part in combat operations abroad will not be prosecuted.

They mention several such people, but according to the Tajik State Committee for National Security at least 400 Tajik nationals are fighting for Islamic State.

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