As ISIS unleashed various escalatingly grotesque execution videos over the past few months, one thing has been constant - the image of a masked man, dressed in black (with a British accent). The world has come to know ISIS apparent chief executioner as 'Jihadi John' but today, as WaPo reports, he has been identified - his real name, according to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming. Not exactly the dis-enfranchised under-employed sad terrorist that the US state department suggests ISIS supportes are...
The world knows him as “Jihadi John,” the masked man with a British accent who has beheaded several hostages held by the Islamic State and who taunts audiences in videos circulated widely online.
But his real name, according to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming. He is believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State, the group whose barbarity he has come to symbolize.
“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.”
A representative of a British human rights group who had been in contact with Emwazi before he left for Syria also said he believed Emwazi was Jihadi John, a moniker given to him by some of the hostages he once held.
“There was an extremely strong resemblance,” Asim Qureshi, research director at the rights group, CAGE, said after watching one of the videos. “This is making me feel fairly certain that this is the same person.”
Mohammed Emwazi was born in Kuwait in 1988. We do not know when he came to the UK but he is understood to have been educated at the Quintin Kynaston Community Academy, in St John's Wood, north London and the University of Westminster.
The BBC notes that we don't know exactly when the British or the American security services worked out that the masked man in the killing videos was Londoner Mohammed Emwazi - and nobody in official security circles is going to comment on how they got to that conclusion.
But we do know that he was, to use the jargon, a "person of interest" to MI5 going back to at least 2010 because he features in semi-secret court cases relating to extremism overseas and back in the UK.
UK court documents relating to Mohammed Emwazi
A UK court document said Mohammed Emwazi was part of an extremist network linked to al-Shabab
Emwazi has been previously described as a member of a network involving at least 13 men from London - and at least two of them were subjected to house arrest control orders or T-Pims. One absconded. Another was killed in a drone strike. The chances of Emwazi ever returning to the UK are vanishingly small.
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Ironically, while last week US FOX News 'accidentally' assigned President Obama's image to a rape accusation, CNN 'accidentally' assigned Putin's image to 'Jihadi John'...