The British Isis militant Jihadi John has been unmasked in reports as Londoner Mohammed Emwazi, sending shockwaves through the west London community he grew up in.
Jihadi John became a symbol of the unwavering brutality underscoring Isis when he appeared in several videos showing the beheading of journalists and aid workers.
The chilling figure comes heavily in contrast to new accounts of Emwazi as a child, teenager and student.
Here are things we now know about Emwazi before he fled the country for Syria and allegedly joined the extremist group in its self-declared ‘caliphate’.
1. He reportedly had a keen interest in football and supported Manchester United while at school. When asked in primary school what career he wanted to enter as an adult, he wrote: 'I will be in a football team and scoring a goal.' One classmate told The Daily Mail: “He played football every lunchtime and at the after-school football club. Through football, he learned different words and expressions. Like all the guys, he always wanted to be the striker.”
2. He attended a Church of England primary school in west London and has been seen pictured smiling on the front row with his classmates for a class photograph, which has not been independently verified.
3. Former classmates were quoted by The Mail as saying his favourite cartoon was The Simpsons, his favourite band was S Club 7 and his preferred book was How To Kill A Monster from the Goosebumps series.
4. Another classmate said he struggled academically but enjoyed sports, describing him as “popular” among his fellow pupils. His performance reportedly improved in secondary school, where teachers described him as “diligent, hard-working…everything you would want a student to be”.
5. His former classmates at the north London secondary school he attended reportedly include the singer Tulisa Contostavlos.
6. After graduating from the University of Westminster and returning from an eight-month stint in Kuwait, he undertook a short English language course in 2012 in the hope of gaining a teaching post in Saudi Arabia. However, he was rejected by various English-language institutes in Saudi Arabia, according to The Guardian.
7. He had a “fearless mentality” and appeared as if he had “nothing to lose”, according to two British trainee medics who met him after he joined Isis in Syria. They told ITV: “He was chosen most likely for his fearless mentality and he’s got nothing to lose. He obviously didn’t want to go back to the UK and he believed passionately in this cause and he believed that killing these people was the right thing to do.“I remember he was quiet - not reserved quiet, he had a lot of friends and was social. In Syria he seemed to be a very busy man, he was always ready for war in safe areas.”
Independent News Service