Jihadi John Identified?

Johnny Jihad

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Jihadi John Identified?
| published February 26, 2015 |

By Thursday Review staff

Though British Intelligence and the CIA have long suspected the true identity of “Jihadi John,” the black-clad, hooded man featured in dozens of gruesome ISIS videos and chilling online presentations, no confirmation of his name has ever been officially made.

Instead, he has remained an enigma—a left-handed man with a west London accent known to linguists as “multi-cultural London” and the knife-wielding man most closely associated with ISIS social media outreach and the terrorist army’s sometimes grisly execution videos.

But according to the Washington Post and ABC News, U.S. and British intelligence sources say that Jihadi John’s real name is Mohammed Emwazi—born in Kuwait in 1988 but a citizen of England since childhood. Emwazi is reported to have come from an upper middle class family living in Queens Park, and earned a college degree in computer programming and networking in the late aught years.

His identity has been confirmed through a variety of methods, including linguistic analysis and computer analyses of his eyes, hands and gestures. According to the sources who spoke to the Washington Post, Emwazi graduated from the University of Westminster.

Though it has never been clear that Emwazi has been the actual murderer of any of the victims of ISIS propaganda videos, he is the Islamic State’s most visible media spokesman, and almost always appears in the execution videos in the moments before ISIS victims are beheaded. ISIS videos are sometimes edited in such a way that Emwazi is not shown doing the killing, which has led to some speculation that an executioner steps in to perform the murders.

Jihadi John, as he has become known around the world, has appeared in the videos of the murders of Peter Kassig, James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Alan Henning, Kenji Goto, David Haines, and others. Intelligence analysts in the U.S. and Britain believe that he has been chosen by ISIS for his superior language skills in English, which enables him to make more chilling and believable presentations in the widely-disseminated videos.

That Emwazi hails from an upper middle class family and the fact that he lived in a well-to-do London suburb serves as another weakness in the conventional thinking regarding ISIS: that its movement has grown because of poverty, joblessness, and hopelessness. Many ISIS fighters come from middle class or even upper middle class backgrounds, and thousands have travelled from countries as economically diverse as Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and the United States. By some estimates, at least 750 of ISIS 22,000 active fighters have come from the United Kingdom, and at least 150 from Australia. Hundreds more have come from Asian nations like Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Despite the media discussion, neither British Intelligence or Scotland Yard, nor the CIA or FBI will officially confirm Jihadi John’s identity. This has led to speculation that Jihadi John is being closely tracked, possibly for a future military operations or counter-terrorism strikes. It is also possible that law enforcement agencies worldwide are attempting to pinpoint his location by tracking those close to him—friends, family, associates, anyone not already in Iraq or Syria but for whom he might otherwise contact by phone or by email. Emwazi leaves very little digital footprint as he stopped using emails two years ago, and is never seen on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media. There are reports that he and several friends went on a lavish African Safari in 2009, and that he first travelled to Syria in 2012 at the height of that country’s violent civil war.

Several news sources say that he has been tracked closely by intelligence sources for several years after an encounter at an airport in Europe upon his return from Africa.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Italy Feels Pressure From ISIS; Thursday Review staff; Thursday Review; February 18, 2015.

The Hunt for ISIS, the Hunt for Jihadi John; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; September 14, 2014.