Washington: A U.S. drone strike in Syria on Thursday night targeted the infamous masked Islamic State executioner named “Jihadi John,” the Pentagon announced. Reports said that John has been killed in the strike.
The BBC has been told by an unnamed expert that there is a “high degree of certainty” Jihadi John has been killed. This follows another source telling Fox News the US is 99 per cent sure.
Officially, the Pentagon would only confirm that the strike had Emwazi in its sights. “U.S. forces conducted an airstrike . . . targeting Mohamed Emwazi, also known as “Jihadi John,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said.
“We are assessing the results of tonight’s operation and will provide additional information as and where appropriate,” Cook said.
Emwazi is believed by the U.S. to have participated in the videos showing the murders of U.S. journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, U.S. aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and a number of other hostages.
Emwazi, 26, graduated from the University of Westminister in London with a degree in computer programming in 2009. Born in Kuwait and raised in London, he left the British capital and became a star salesman for a Kuwaiti IT company, the Guardian newspaper reported earlier this year.
Speaking in a British accent in some of the Islamic State videos, Emwazi was born in Kuwait but grew up in affluence and lived for years in London before he turned to militancy and murder.
His radicalization may have started after numerous run-ins with security officials, who he told human rights officials were targeting him because he is muslim. At some point as a young adult, he traveled to Tanzania for a safari with friends but was detained by authorities, according to the British-based human rights group CAGE. He was taken to a police station, stripped to his underwear and held in a cell for 24 hours, according to a CAGE case file released in February.
Friends of Emwazi said they believed Emwazi became radicalized because of the Tanzania incident.
“Jihadi John” — nicknamed that by hostages after the Beatles, along with three other British militants — began appearing in Islamic State videos in August 2014. His grisly videos show him dressed in a black hood shrouding his face and brandishing a large knife in front of his victims, who are dressed in orange jumpsuits. He speaks in threats to the United States and other Western nations.