Jihadi John “identified” as Londoner Mohammed Emzawi

Jihadi John

The Washington Post is reporting that the masked ISIS executioner known as “Jihadi John” has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British man believed to be from West London who was known to UK security services.

Emwazi first appeared in a video last August, when he apparently killed the American journalist James Foley. He was later thought to have been pictured 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.

Speaking with a British accent, he taunted and threatened Western powers before appearing to kill the hostages.

Last month, he appeared in a video with the Japanese hostages Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto, shortly before they were killed.

The Washington Post said Emzawi, who’s in his mid-20s, was believed to have travelled to Syria around 2012 and later joined ISIS.

Friends of Emzawi told the Washington Post that he was from a well-to-do family and that he studied computer programming at university.

“I have no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John,” said one of Emwazi’s close friends who identified him in an interview with The Washington Post. “He was like a brother to me. . . . I am sure it is him.”

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The friends, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, believe that Emwazi started to radicalize after a planned safari in Tanzania following his graduation from the University of Westminster.

Emwazi and two friends landed in Dar es Salaam in May 2009 and they were detained by police and held overnight. It’s unclear whether the reason for the detention was made clear to the three, but they were eventually deported.

james foleyEmwazi flew to Amsterdam, where he claimed that an officer from MI5 accused him of trying to reach Somalia, where the al Qaeda affiliate group al-Shabab operates in the southern part of the country.

Emwazi denied the accusation and claimed that MI5 representatives had tried to recruit him. But a former hostage said Jihadi John was obsessed with Somalia and made his captives watch videos about al-Shabab.

Shortly afterward, Emwazi decided to move to his birthplace, Kuwait, where he landed a job working for a computer company, according to the e-mails he wrote to Asim Qureshi from CAGE. He came back to London twice, the second time to finalize his wedding plans to a woman in Kuwait.

In June 2010, however, counterterrorism officials in Britain detained him again — this time fingerprinting him and searching his belongings. When he tried to fly back to Kuwait the next day, he was prevented from doing so.

“I had a job waiting for me and marriage to get started,” he wrote in a June 2010 e-mail to Qureshi. But now “I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London. A person imprisoned & controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace & country, Kuwait.”

Close friends of Emwazi’s also said his situation in London had made him desperate to leave the country. It’s unclear exactly when he reached Syria or how.

Once in Syria, Emwazi contacted his family and at least one of his friends. It’s unclear what he told them about his activities there.

A former hostage who was debriefed by officials upon release said that Jihadi John was part of a team guarding Western captives at a prison in Idlib, Syria, in 2013. The hostages nicknamed the facility “the box.”

British police declined to comment on the reports.

Commander Richard Walton, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “We have previously asked media outlets not to speculate about the details of our investigation on the basis that life is at risk.

“We are not going to confirm the identity of anyone at this stage or give an update on the progress of this live counter-terrorism investigation.”

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