The masked man known as “Jihadi John,” who has been seen in a number of beheading videos released by the barbaric Islamic group ISIS, has been identified.
Officials have identified the man as UK’s Mohammed Emwazi, a Muslim in his mid to late-20’s who traveled to Syria at some point in 2012 and later joined the Islamic State. Emwazi was born in Kuwait, but grew up in West London in a well-to-do family, where he also obtained a degree in computer programming. He attended a mosque in Greenwich at times, and became more engrossed in jihad upon his graduation from college.
According to reports, Emwazi had been suspected by British officials of being involved with terrorist organizations at least five years ago. He and other friends were detained in Dar es Salaam while going on a safari trip, and was also reportedly questioned by British officials after he landed in the Netherlands.
Emwazi later moved to his native Kuwait, where he worked for a computer company. But once he returned to the UK, he was detained by counter-terrorism officials and prevented from leaving the country.
“I had a job waiting for me and marriage to get started,” the BBC reports Emwazi as writing in a June 2010 email. “[But now] I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London, a person imprisoned and controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace and country, Kuwait.”
He later left for Syria in 2012 and joined the barbaric Islamic group ISIS. Reports state that he might have been responsible for guarding western hostages, including those that were beheaded over the past seven months.
The first video that is believed to feature Emwazi is that of the beheading of American journalist James Foley in August 2014. In the video—as all others—Emwazi was dressed in black, and was completely covered except for his eyes and the bridge of his nose. As he wielded a knife, he delivered threats to America, including President Obama.
“Today, your military air force is attacking us daily in Iraq,” he said, moments before beheading Foley. “You’re no longer fighting an insurgency. We are an Islamic army and a state that has been accepted by a large number of Muslims worldwide. So any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people.”
Emwazi was also featured in a number of other beheading videos, such as those involving the deaths of Americans Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig. Hostages were stated to have referred to him as “Jihadi John.”
A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister David Cameron declined to comment on the matter.
“We don’t confirm or deny matters relating to intelligence,” she told reporters. “I am not going to get into the details of an ongoing police and security investigation.”
“We have said since we have seen the awful actions being taken by these terrorists that we are absolutely determined to bring the perpetrators to justice, and the police and the security agencies have been working hard to do that, continue to work hard to do that and that is what we want to see,” she said.