BBC: Islamic State ‘Jihadi John’ named as Mohammed Emwazi.
The BBC and the Washington Post reported today that the masked Islamic State militant known as “Jihadi John”, who has been pictured in the videos of the beheadings of Western hostages is Mohammed Emwazi, a British man believed to be from West London, who was known to British security services, and who chose not to disclose his name earlier for operational reasons. Official in Britain and the U.S. remain silent today in response to the published reports from the BBC and Washington Post.
As early as September 2014, MI5 and the FBI had identified Emwazi as the masked killer, but investigators did not make his name known primarily because of concerns about the ramification his identification might have on the safety of hostages being held by ISIS. Investigators were also concerned about the safety of Emwazi’s family in the UK, in case of retaliation by vigilantes.
In today’s Washington Post interview, one of Emwazi’s close friends said: “I have no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John. He was like a brother to me. … I am sure it is him.”
He was known to wear stylish clothes and was very careful about making eye contact with women. He is reported be from a “well to do” or middle class family.
Fluent in Arabic, he also graduated with a degree in information technology at the University of Westminster.
Emwazi is reported to have started to become radicalized following a trip to Tanzania, where he and two friends were detained by police overnight after landing in Dar es Salaam and eventually deported. He was reported to have been enraged how he was treated after he was flown to Amsterdam where an officer from MI5 accused him of trying to reach Somalia — the location of militant group al-Shabaab. He denied the Somalia accusations.
In June 2010, Emwazi was detained by British counter-terrorism officials, who searched and fingerprinted him and blocked him from returning to Kuwait. Sometime in 2012, Emwazi made it to Syria.
“Jihadi John” has supposedly left very little trail on social media. Emwazi, a 26-year-old west Londoner and university graduate, is reported to have been given the moniker ‘Jihadi John’ by a group of his hostages.
Emwazi guarded western hostages and managed negotiations with their families. He is reported to be a ruthless killer with no reservations about carrying out gruesome publicized murders.
Emwazi first appeared in a horrific video August 2014, when he apparently killed the US journalist James Foley.
He is also believed to be in the videos of the beheadings of US journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines, British taxi driver Alan Henning, and American aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig — also known as Peter.
Human activist Kayla Mueller, who was recently killed in Syria on February 6, 2015 may have also had contact with
Emwazi. On February 10, 2015, Mueller’s family announced ISIS had confirmed her death to them in an e-mail, with three photographs of her dead body, bruised on the face and wearing a black hijab. ISIS claimed she was killed in a Jordanian air strike on Raqqa, Syria. Kayla and her boyfriend were detained after they were captured departing from a hospital in Aleppo, where the boyfriend was working, and where Kayla had begged to accompany him. Kayla Mueller’s boyfriend, Omar Alkhani, has said that he is convinced that one of the prison guards was “Jihadi John.” Alkhani was detained near a cell that contained the western hostages, where Alkhani recalls hearing the voice of a masked prison guard, who came to the jail early in the morning. “He interrogated the Western hostages. He spoke classical Arabic, the language of the Koran, fluently, and also English with a British accent,” said Alkhani in a Daily Mail interview. Alkhani was eventually released after a failed attempt to tell ISIS captors that he and Kayla were married.
Terror analysts warn that finding and killing a figurehead such as “Jihadi John” is not a panacea to the problem of terrorism. Analysts point out that when Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, governments — including the United States — claimed that jihadism was on the decline, but now the world is faced with a rapid rise of ISIS attacks and atrocities.
Reuters is reporting, citing BBC and The Washington Post, that friends have identified “Jihadi John” as Mohammed Emwazi, a British national.
See also …
Map showing flow of ISIS fighters to Syria