An MMA fighter from Tajikistan was killed in an airstrike in Iraq on Feb. 3.
Islamic militant Abu Muhammad al-Tajiki, who was formerly known as Alan Chekranov, was killed after an air strike near Kirkuk in Iraq.
Chekranov was a three-time MMA national champion in Tajikistan.
Radio Ozodi confirmed that Chekranov was a national champion in the 54kg. weight category. He studied at the Tajik-Russian Slavic University but moved to Russia. From there, he moved to Iraq in 2013.
According to Joanna Paraszczuk from RFERL:
The man in the first photograph is named Alan Chekranov, and he is (or, more accurately, was) Tajikistan’s three-time national champion in mixed martial arts and a university student. The man in the second picture is Abu Muhammad al-Tajiki, a Tajik Islamic State militant who was recently killed in a U.S.-led air strike near Kirkuk in Iraq.
It is hard to believe, but Alan Chekranov and Abu Muhammad al-Tajiki are the same person. How did a promising young martial artist and student transform into an Islamic State (IS) militant in such a short time?
From Chekranov To Al-Tajiki
Reports that a notorious Tajik militant had been killed in Iraq emerged on social media earlier this month, after a series U.S.-led air strikes against IS hit near Kirkuk. Four Tajiks were killed, but the one who gained most attention was 21-year-old Abu Muhammad al-Tajiki, or al-Tochiki, who had become known after appearing in videos where he talked about “jihad” in Syria.
Russian-language social media came alive with speculation about the transformation of Chekranov to al-Tajiki.
According to RFE/RL’s Tajik service, Radio Ozodi, Chekranov was born in 1993 in the Shahrtuz region in southwestern Tajikistan. His mother, Maria Chekranova, was an Ossetian and his father was a Tajik named Umar. Chekranov had been registered in official documents under his mother’s maiden name.
In 2010, Chekranov graduated from School No. 4 in the Shahrtuz district and went on to study at the Tajik-Russian Slavic University.
Things seemed to go wrong for Chekranov, however; in 2012, he was expelled from the university for absenteeism and he went to Russia to work.