Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) — What to know:
- The ISIS executioner dubbed “Jihadi John” has been named by news reports.
- He is believed to be a Kuwait-born British man.
- He attended college in London and his family lives there now.
- He is thought to have fled to Syria in 2012.
- He allegedly killed at least seven foreign captives on video.
The man believed to be the ISIS terrorist dubbed “Jihadi John” has been identified as a British man named Mohammed Emwazi.
The terrorist’s identity was first reported by the BBC and The Washington Post, which cited a friend who had “no doubt” that Emwazi was the masked man believed to be seen in at least seven ISIS beheading videos.
Emwazi was born in Kuwait but moved to England when he was 6 years old, according to a rights group that worked with him in the years before he reportedly left England for Syria.
Emwazi’s family lives in Queens Park, a neighborhood in North West London. The neighborhood is considered to be working class.
Neighbors told ABC News that Emwazi’s relatives have not been seen at their home in the past week.
The University of Westminster confirmed to ABC News that a student by the same name left the school in 2009.
“If these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened by the news,” a spokesman for the university said in a statement.
In 2010, Emwazi reportedly attempted to move to Kuwait but was stopped from doing so by British counter-terrorism officials, according to activist group CAGE.
CAGE describes itself as an “advocacy organisation” that regularly works on behalf of Guantanamo Bay detainees and Muslims who have been detained for terrorism. Their employee, Asim Qureshi, spoke Thursday about how communicated with Emwazi repeatedly between 2010 and 2012 when he is believed to have gone to Syria.
Qureshi described Emwazi as a “beautiful young man” when they met in the summer of 2009 to discuss Emwazi’s complaints about being detained and harassed by British authorities as he traveled.
He said he cannot confirm that the man in the video is Emwazi because his face is covered, but added that the personality is very different from the one he knew in London. He described Emwazi as kind, gentle and soft spoken.
He said Emwazi told him he didn’t “want to live in a country where I’m treated as the enemy.”
“What happened to him after then? I can’t tell you. I don’t know myself,” Qureshi said.
Jihadi John gained international attention in August 2014 when he appeared to be the masked man who executed American journalist James Foley in a video that became the first in a disturbing string of similar executions.
He spoke English with a British accent in the video, hence his nickname, Jihadi John.
Though he always appeared covered, his voice and stature led experts to believe that he was also the figure pictured in at least six other videos showing the deaths of Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Alan Henning, Peter Kassig, Kenji Goto Jogo and Haruna Yakuawa.
Neither British nor American government officials have publicly confirmed the masked man’s identity, but both have expressed concerns about how this revelation could impact ongoing investigations.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister David Cameron said that he “would be concerned about information being put into the public domain at any time that might jeopardize ongoing police or security investigations or the safety of British citizens.”
A press officer for the White House National Security Council issued a statement Thursday morning.
“The U.S. government continues to investigate the murder of American citizens by ISIL. We will not comment on ongoing investigations and therefore are not in a position to confirm or deny the identity of this individual. As the president has said, no matter how long it takes, the United States will not rest until we find and hold accountable the terrorists who are responsible for the murders of our citizens.”
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