The defection to ISIS of the U.S.-trained commander of Tajikistan's special forces is a major public relations coup for the terrorist army, but likely not an immediate threat to coalition forces, experts said.
"Listen, you Americans, you pigs, I went to America three times, and I have seen how you train fighters to kill Muslims."
- Col. Gulmurod Khalimov, defector to ISIS
Last week, ISIS released a video featuring the defector, Col. Gulmurod Khalimov, saying he underwent training under U.S. Special Forces and the now-defunct private security contractor Blackwater. The State Department reportedly confirmed that Khalimov participated in the training through its Diplomatic Security/Anti-Terrorism Assistance program, and was taught crisis response, tactical management of special events and tactical leadership training.
"Listen, you Americans, you pigs, I went to America three times, and I have seen how you train fighters to kill Muslims," Khalimov, garbed in black, toting a sniper rifle and wearing a bandolier of ammunition, says in the video, which was analyzed by Middle East Media Research Institute. "I have seen how you build and occupy cities of the Muslims. I have seen how you train fighters to destroy Islam and the Muslims. Allah willing, with this weapon, I will come to your cities, your homes, and we will kill you."
John Pike, founder and director of GlobalSecurity.org, said the most troubling aspect of Khalimov's defection is not what he can do with his training, but the idea others could follow.
"One guy more or less would not make a lot of difference, but if a person in his position would change teams, then you would have to worry that there might be others who would also change teams," said Pike.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters said the defection was "embarrassing," but called it a "medium-size, localized problem."
The Tajikistan Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. Tajikistan borders Afghanistan to the north. The U.S. has had diplomatic relations with Tajikistan since it broke away from the former Soviet Union in 1992.