Imam was born in Kyrgyzstan in 1957 to Chechen parents, who had been been relocated as a result of the forced deportations of most Chechens and Ingush to Central Asia on February 23, 1944. He returned to Chechnya and would graduate from a secondary school in the Chechen capital Grozny. Alimsultanov would later graduate from the Polytechnic Institute in Rostov, and work as a land reclamation expert.
Alimsultanov started his musical career in the mid-1980s, where he would pass on music folktales and tales of Chechen heroes with his songs. He also wrote songs to poems written by Umar Yarycheva, Musa Geshaev, and other prominent Chechen poets. Unlike fellow Chechen bard Timur Mucuraev’s songs, Imam’s music tended to be closer to traditional Chechen music. Some of his most popular songs include “Gazavat”, “Dagestan”, “Distant Homeland Anthem”, and “Chechnya”.
With the start of the First Russian-Chechen War in December 1994, Alimsultanov spoke to Chechen fighters, and at the request of Chechen President Dzhokar Dudaev, accompanied injured fighters to Turkey. Imam performed extensively in Istanbul, collecting money for injured Chechen freedom fighters.
After returning to Chechnya, as a chief negotiator Alimsultanov helped secured the release of 25 builders from Odessa, Ukraine, who were held hostage. After securing their release, Odessa Mayor Eduard Gurwits opened the Imam Music Hall Theatre, where Imam would be invited to perform five times.
On the night of November 10, 1996, three men in police uniform burst into the Odessa house where Alimsultanov and his artistic team were staying, shooting Imam and two colleagues at close range. All three died, but one witness, who was in the bathroom at the time of the murder, survived. The murder remains unresolved. In one version of the Ukrainian law enforcement, the murder had no political motive; however, an investigation by Chechen special services implicated the Russian FSB for the murder.
Imam Alimsultanov was buried near his hometown of Khasavyurt, Dagestan, and a street in the same city was renamed in his honor.