British news outlets claim to have identified the English-speaking masked individual who appears in gruesome videos of Western hostage beheadings. His name is Mohammed Emwazi.
While information is still being gathered and analyzed, various news sources have reported that Mohammed Emwazi, a 26 year-old, Kuwaiti-born British man from London, is the infamous jihadist who stands in the disturbing beheadings filmed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Emwazi received the nickname ‘Jihadi John’ because of his notable British accent, and because he would be one of four British militants in Syria heading the ISIL cell in charge of coordinating and performing the beheading of Western hostages. They have been nicknamed by other militants and the press as “The Beatles.”
According to the BBC, Emwazi first appeared in the beheading video of US journalist James Foley that was broadcast last August. Since then, he has appeared in a number of other beheading videos where he warns Western powers to beware the Islamic army while holding a knife against the hostages’ necks.
Emwazi’s father, Jassem, and his lawyer have both stepped up claiming, notwithstanding the reports, that there is no concrete evidence that “Jihadi John” is in fact his son Mohammed. “There is nothing that proves what is being circulated in the media, especially through video clips and footage, that the accused is my son Mohammed, who is being referred to as the alleged executioner ” said the father. Fahd Khaled Aba Alkhail, Jassem’s attorney, claimed that while there might be some coincidence in the naming, “his face is covered,” and that there is no definite evidence that the masked man is Jassem’s son.
In 2009, the BBC reports that Mohammed Emwazi came to the attention of UK’s security services as MI5 monitored suspected extremists linked to groups outside the United Kingdom. He had travelled to Tanzania with two companions—a man named “Abu Talib” and a German convert called “Omar”—all of whom where denied entry and were interrogated upon their return to London. Emwazi was then questioned by both Dutch and British security services as he returned to the UK through The Netherlands.
For more information:
- Jihadi John: From ordinary schoolboy to world’s most wanted man (The Telegraph)
- “Jihadi John” Named as Mohammed Emwazi from London (BBC news)
- No proof Jihadi John is my son: Father of Mohammed Emwazi (NY Post)
- Islamic State: Profile of Mohammed Emwazi aka “Jihadi John” (BBC News)
- The Search for Jihadi John, Brutal Murderer of American Journalist James Foley (Newsweek)
Photo: The Beheading of Saint Paul. Painting by Enrique Simonet in 1887.