ISIS executioner “Jihadi John” has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a 26-year-old man who was born in Kuwait and grew up in London.
What We Know So Far
- ISIS militant “Jihadi John” has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a 26-year-old man who was born in Kuwait and grew up in London.
- Emwazi is known as the ISIS public executioner, who, in videos released by the group, often addresses the camera in a British accent before apparently beheading or killing the hostage.
- He was previously questioned by British security services in 2010 after returning home from a safari in Tanzania, which one advocacy group said led to his radicalization.
- Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday defended the intelligence services, saying they should be thanked for their work.
- Here is a timeline of everything we know about how Emwazi became known as “Jihadi John”.
The Telegraph has this photo of Emwazi, and reported that school officials said he was bullied. “He wasn’t a particularly social young man. He didn’t have a huge group of friends,” said the former headteacher at the Quintin Kynaston academy in London.
Jihadi John was bullied at school and did not have many friends, former headteacher says http://t.co/BhCTf4HMOa
— Telegraph (@The Telegraph)
Meanwhile, the Guardian also has a new photo of Emwazi and reported that one of Emwazi’s former bosses at a a Kuwaiti IT company thought he was a model employee.
“He was the best employee we ever had,” the former boss said of the then 21-year-old. “He was very good with people. Calm and decent. He came to our door and gave us his CV.”
He said staff were surprised that a Londoner would want to come and work in Kuwait, as many of his peers in the region would be looking to make the journey in the opposite direction. The former boss added that, after a stellar probation period, the Briton disappeared completely in April 2010 after a trip to London.
“How could someone as calm and quiet as him become like the man who we saw on the news? It’s just not logical that he could be this guy.”
Channel 4 obtained emails between Emwazi and activist group CAGE about his treatment by British security officials. CAGE has said this incident, while Emwazi was trying to board a plane at Heathrow to Kuwait, contributed to his radicalization.
Emwazi told CAGE that anti-terror officers “searched and had his phone, SIM card, laptop and USBs taken.”
He says a police officer wearing a turban “reached out for the Holy Quran and put it on the floor & I asked him to put it onto the chair rather than on the floor. He started to get aggressive, changing his tone of voice. He said â€˜I’ve put it onto the chair now, so just shutup’ and I replied â€˜You shutup’. He stood up aggressively and came into me face, pushing me back onto the floor. At that point I told the other officers that I was not going to answer any-more questions until this aggressive and angry person that has hate for me for no reason, got out of the room. He later stood outside”.
He said the officers treated him very roughly:
“[One officer] grabbed onto my t-shirt and throw me onto the wall, garbing onto my beard and lasting strangling my by my neck. All this was happing to me while the officers sat down casually not stopping or doing anything. When the Asian officer realised I was having difficulty breathing, he finally let go of my neck. At this point I was absolutely shocked and completely baffled”.
He said he filed a complaint with a police review board, who told him the only thing they could do was notify the officer of the complaint.
“I also hope that both our efforts, put an end of the oppression that so often happens under the hands of those that believe they are above the law, taking advantage of the “Police uniform”, acting like â€˜Robocop’, rather than civilized humans.”
In a statement, the Pittsburgh Pirates said it was “sickening” to see a “murderer” wear a Pirates cap in the new photo.
Pirates issue statement on “Jihadi John” wearing team hat in photo
— darrenrovell (@Darren Rovell)
The classic gold P stands for Pittsburgh, and is worn by our players, coaches and fans with a great sense of pride. It is absolutely sickening to everyone within the Pirates organization, and to our great fans, to see this murderer wearing a Pirates cap in this old photo.
Sky News has broadcast this picture, claiming it is an image of Mohammed Emwazi from his time at the University of Westminster.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC News the government is “working on” ways to kill or capture Emwazi.
“I think there is something to be said for holding accountable [and] getting at the people who are responsible for these barbaric acts,” Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC News’ Pierre Thomas in what is likely to be one of Holder’s last TV interviews before stepping down.
Holder refused to confirm those reports, insisting nothing “would be served” by revealing the true identity of the masked man.
“It would cut back any of the operational possibilities we have been considering,” Holder added.
Nevertheless, asked whether he can guarantee “Jihadi John” will face justice, Holder said: “The vow that I can make to the American people, along with our allies, is that we will hold accountable all of the people who have been responsible for these heinous, barbaric acts. … That is something that we are focused on each and every day.”
A Downing Street spokesperson has described the suggestion that the security services were responsible for Emwazi’s radicalisation as “completely reprehensible”.
She told journalists at a scheduled briefing that “the people responsible for these murders are the people that we have seen in the videos”. She added: “We should not be seeking to put blame on other people, particularly those who are working to keep British citizens safe.”
Asked whether David Cameron would be sorry to see “a bullet between [Emwazi’s] eyes”, the spokesperson insisted: “The prime minister wants to see the murderers brought to justice.”
Speaking separately in Cardiff, Cameron insisted that he had full confidence in the work of the intelligence services. He said: “I’m satisfied we have in place the right ways of scrutinising the work these extraordinary men and women do on our behalf.
“All I can say is, even in the last few months, their dedication and work has saved us from plots on the streets of the United Kingdom that could have done immense damage.
“I think it is a moment to stand up and thank them for the work they do on our behalf.”
Here’s a selection of Friday’s front pages.
See all Friday’s UK newspaper front pages #JihadiJohn #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers
— suttonnick (@Nick Sutton)
The Sun reported that Mohammed Emwazi once wrote in a primary school yearbook that he supported Manchester United and was a fan of the pop band S Club 7.
Sir Menzies Campbell, a member of Parliament’s intelligence and security committee, said it was likely to seek answers from the security services on what they knew about “Jihadi John”, but not till after the general election in May.
“I think it will be for the committee formed in the next parliament to ask for a report and then, if it thinks it necessary, to take evidence from the relevant security services,” The Scotsman quoted him as saying.
Campbell claimed the committee had not been informed of “Jihadi John”â€˜s true identity.
He added: “I’m totally unaware of that and I wouldn’t have expected it to be the case, because although the committee is entitled to some evidence about operational activities, that is by and large after these operations have been concluded.
“One of the difficulties here is you can’t keep an eye on everyone all the time, and, as the committee found in the case of Lee Rigby, there’s no doubt that from time to time the security services have got to prioritise those upon whom they are conducting surveillance.”
Support for British involvement in air strikes against ISIS has increased dramatically since September, according to figures from YouGov.
The Times reported that the number of people who would support UK air strikes against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria has risen by 11%.
According to YouGov’s survey, which took place during February, 63% of Britons would be in favour of military action, with 17% opposed.
Support is weaker, however, for the involvement of troops on the ground: 32% would be in favour, versus 45% against.
The mother of US journalist James Foley, who was murdered by Emwazi in August 2014, said she forgives his killer.
Diane Foley told The Times: “It saddens me, his [Emwazi’s] continued hatred. He felt wronged, now we hate him — now that just prolongs the hatred. We need to end it.
“As a mum I forgive him. You know, the whole thing is tragic — an ongoing tragedy.”
The Sun has the picture of a young Emwazi on its front page this morning:
Front page exclusive: Pictures of Mohammed Emwazi – the boy who became IS killer ‘Jihadi John’ http://t.co/RehYY4543O
— TheSunNewspaper (@The Sun)
The Daily Mail also had the same picture of what it called an “angelic schoolboy who turned into a reviled executioner”.
Two British men who said they met Emwazi at a Syrian hospital described him as aggressive and “always ready for war”.
The medics met Emwazi separately while working at the hospital in 2013, ITV reported.
They said Emwazi would come to visit his friends in the hospital wearing full combat gear and carrying weapons. They said he strongly disliked Britain, and identified himself as Yemeni-Kuwaiti.
“He told me clear cut he had no intention of returning from London,” one said. “He said no way and if you ask him if he was British he would say kind of. He didn’t say yes. He was happy where he was, you could tell in a funny way he was at rest.”
The medics said that when they met Emwazi, he was a fighter with Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian offshoot of al-Qaeda. They described him as friendly and caring toward those he was visiting in the hospital, but also aggressive.
“From what I’ve heard, from the way that he deals with difficult incidents, is that he seems to be someone with not really much to lose,” on medic told ITV. “There have been incidents where there have been run-ins at checkpoints and he’s dealt with people in a sort of way — a careless manner, gung-ho manner, with disregard for his own life and safety.”
The medics said they were shocked to discover that Emwazi could be accused of being so violent.
Additional reporting by Ryan Broderick and Rossalyn Warren in London and Ellie Hall in Washington.
This is a developing story. Please check back here and at BuzzFeed News on Twitter for updates.