Pentagon officials announced on Thursday that American drone strikes were launched aimed at killing notorious ISIS militant ‘Jihadi John’. Jihadi John is the man behind dozens of beheadings including the beheadings of journalists Steve Sotloff and James Foley and American aid worker Abdul Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto. In all the beheading videos, a tall masked figure clad in black and speaking in a British accent typically began one of the gruesome videos with a political rant and a kneeling hostage before him, then ended it holding an oversize knife in his hand with the headless victim lying before him in the sand.
It remains unclear if the strike killed Mohamed Emwazi who has been referred to as ‘Jihadi John’. ABC News, citing an unnamed U.S. official, said Emwazi, was “eviscerated” as he left a building in Raqqa, Syria, and entered a vehicle. The official called it a “clean hit” with no collateral damage, according to ABC. 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.
Friends of Emwazi said they believed Emwazi became radicalized because of the Tanzania incident. 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. “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. Emwazi speaks in threats to the United States and other Western nations. British intelligence agency MI5 placed Emwazi on their list of potential terror suspects for years but were not able to keep him from traveling to Syria. He has been tied to terrorist acts in Somalia since 2009. Diane Foley, mother of James Foley spoke to ABC News saying she would take solace in the fact of Emwazi’s death but it would not bring back her son.
This huge effort to go after the this deranged man filled with hate when they can’t make half that effort to save the hostages while these young Americans were still alive,”
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook announced the U.S. airstrikes in Raqqa, Syria.
Emwazi, a British citizen, 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,” Cook said. “We are assessing the results of tonight’s operation and will provide additional information as and where appropriate.”
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.