Brother Of IS ‘War Minister’ Resigns From Tajik Prisons Post

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The brother of Gulmurod Halimov, the fugitive Tajik colonel who joined the Islamic State (IS) group, has resigned from his post at Tajikistan's department of prisons after three of his close relatives were sentenced on terrorism-related charges, Tajik government sources say.

Saidmurod Halimov, who is a lieutenant colonel, resigned in late 2017, but his resignation wasn't announced, an official at the ministry told RFE/RL on March 5. The official requested anonymity as he wasn't authorized to brief media.

Halimov's younger brothers, Komil and Nazir, and his nephew Al, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven to 18 years on charges including attempting to join IS and trying to illegally cross the border.

The three men were arrested in July 2017 when they were allegedly trying to cross into neighboring Afghanistan to fight as mercenaries there.

Tajik law enforcement officials say the men were detained in a police operation that killed four other members of Halimov's extended family.

In a separate case, Gulmurod Halimov's eldest son, Behruz, was arrested in April 2017 and charged with attempting to join a foreign militant group.

Another official at the ministry told RFE/RL on March 5 that after the sentencing of his relatives, "it became legally impossible for Saidmurod Halimov to continue working" at the department overseeing prisons.

"According to law, an employee can no longer work at this agency if they have a relative in prison," said the official who requested anonymity.

Saidmurod Halimov first submitted his resignation in 2015, when his brother Gulmurod, a former commander of the Tajik Interior Ministry's special forces, joined IS.

However, his resignation was rejected, with Tajik authorities saying they were satisfied with Saidmurod Halimov's performance and that he shouldn't be held responsible for his brother's actions.

In August 2016, the U.S. State Department named Gulmurod Halimov as a key member of IS and offered a reward of $3 million for information on his whereabouts.

Iraqi media reported that he had become the militant group's "minister of war."

There were several claims that he was killed in Iraq, but Tajik officials have not been able to confirm the reports.

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