After having his identity revealed last week by the Washington Post and confirmed by US intelligence authorities, “Jihadi John” is now in the crosshairs of victims’ families.
Mohammed Emwazi, 26, is the person made infamous by his role in at least six ISIS videos, in which he preaches the group’s message of hate and jihad, then proceeds to brutally execute Western journalists and aid workers.
Emwazi, the son of a Kuwaiti cab driver, moved with his family to Britain at age six. After earning a degree in computer programming at London’s University of Westminster, he was already on the radar of the British Secret Service, suspected of trying to reach Somalia in 2009 and detained by counter-terrorism authorities on his return from living in Kuwait in 2010. At that point, Emwazi was added to a terror watch-list and banned from leaving the United Kingdom.
It seems that he was still able to travel to Syria in 2012, at which point he joined the ranks of ISIS. Various witnesses confirmed having met him in Syria.
In England, before joining ISIS, Emwazi had been contacted repeatedly by anti-terror investigators. Emwazi supposedly complained about what he perceived to be unsolicited harassment – even submitting a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Ever since Emwazi took a starring role in ISIS execution videos, including those of British aid worker Alan Henning, American journalist James Foley, and Japanese reporter Kenji Goto, the FBI and MI5 had been trying to identify him using voice analysis technology and interviews with former ISIS hostages. Neither Scotland Yard nor the Prime Minister’s Office have confirmed the new information; however, London police have been stationed outside the Emwazi home in London.
Since the revealing of Emwazi’s identity, the family of Steven Sotloff, the American-Israeli who was beheaded in an ISIS video last September, is calling for his capture. “We want to go and watch him be prosecuted and convicted in an American court of law and then spend the rest of his days in a super-max prison where he’ll live in isolation,” said a family spokesman. “That’s American justice. That’s how our country deals with these situations.”
Sotloff is believed to have been captured by the Islamic militant group in Syria in 2013.
John and Diane Foley, the parents of James Foley –captured by ISIS in 2012 and killed by Emwazi – criticize the US government for what they perceive as a lack of effort to rescue their son. “For one year, we didn’t really know where he was or whether he was alive,” said John Foley.
The family of Kayla Mueller, an aid worker captured and killed by ISIS, similarly criticized the US government for not doing more to rescue their daughter.
Bethany Haines, the daughter of David Haines, another Emwazi victim, recently pledged to the media that she will “feel closure and relief once there’s a bullet between his eyes.” Her father, a 44-year-old Scottish humanitarian worker, was also captured in Syria in 2013 and later murdered.
In London, a neighbor of the Emwazi family spoke to the London Evening Standard, saying, “They do not mix with us or socialize, or talk to us. Ever since they moved in a while ago, they do not say anything to us.”
The University of Westminster reacted, through a spokesman, by stating that, “‘A Mohammed Emwazi left the university six years ago. If these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened by the news. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has called for the British terrorist to be brought to justice.