Jihadi John identified as wealthy British graduate
The British Isil militant suspected of appearing in videos showing the beheading of Western hostages has been named in reports as Mohammed Emwazi from London.
Emwazi, or 'Jihadi John' as he became known, is thought to have appeared wearing black robes and a balaclava in a series of disturbing videos depicting the killing of journalists and aid workers.
He is believed to have travelled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), the group terrorising Iraq and Syria.
Jihadi John first appeared in a video last August, when he appeared to kill the American journalist James Foley. The name 'Jihadi John' came after it was reported that hostages referred to the militant as 'John' during their time in captivity.
Emwazi (27) grew up in an affluent family in a suburb of west London. The University of Westminster confirmed he had been a student there, graduating with a degree in computer programming.
Yesterday 'The Washington Post' published a lengthy article naming him, quoting a friend who said: "I have no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John."
An international manhunt led by the FBI was launched in August 2014 when he appeared to behead the American photojournalist Foley in a video.
Foley's death was followed by the brutal killing of four more UK and US aid workers and journalists, all of whom were shown in footage next to the balaclava-clad militant.
He is also thought to have been featured in videos threatening the lives of Japanese hostages Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto, who were later killed by the extremist group.
Reports say Emwazi rose rapidly through Isil ranks and became one of a trio of British men who held European and American nationals hostage.
He was also allegedly a prominent member of training camps for new recruits in Raqqa and was widely believed to have played a major role in the jihadis' IT security, according to 'The Guardian'.
Emwazi is reported to have started to become radicalised following a trip to Tanzania, where he and two friends were detained by police overnight after landing in Dar es Salaam and eventually deported.
It is claimed that Emwazi told friends he was then flown to Amsterdam where an officer from MI5 accused him of trying to reach Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabaab operates.
Asim Qureshi, research director at the rights group, CAGE, says he met with Emwazi in the autumn after he returned from this trip to discuss what had taken place. "Mohammed was quite incensed by his treatment, that he had been very unfairly treated," Mr Qureshi told 'The Post'.
'The Post' reports that Emwazi then moved to Kuwait, his birthplace, for eight months. He returned to London twice during this period before being detained by counter-terrorism officials in Britain, who took his fingerprints and searched his belongings.
He was allegedly prevented from returning to Kuwait, telling Mr Qureshi in an email: "I had a job waiting for me and marriage to get started, but now I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London."
Mr Qureshi was quoted as saying there was an "extremely strong resemblance", between the militant in the videos and Emwazi.
He later claimed that he had told 'The Post': "While there were some striking similarities, that due to the hood, there was no way he could be 100pc certain."
Mr Qureshi last spoke to Emwazi in 2012 when he contacted him for advice.
He felt "actions were taken to criminalise him and he had no way to do something against these actions", according to Mr Qureshi.
In a statement after the news broke, Mr Qureshi attacked British security services for "suffocating domestic policies" and for "systematically" harassing young Muslims. (© Independent News Service)
Independent News Service