MI5 'quizzes Jihadi John teachers'
MI5 officers have reportedly questioned former teachers of Briton Mohammed Emwazi after he was this week unmasked as the Islamic State terrorist known as Jihadi John.
David Cameron has spoken out in defence of the intelligence and security agencies after associates of the London university graduate accused them of playing a part in his radicalisation prior to his departure to Syria.
Speaking after the militant - seen wielding a knife in a series of barbaric videos of hostage beheadings - was identified as Kuwait-born Emwazi, Mr Cameron said his "number one priority" was to ensure that those responsible for crimes against British citizens were "put out of action".
A former secondary school teacher of the 26-year-old, who she described as a "success story" for appearing to overcome an anger problem to achieve good grades, said staff at Quintin Kynaston Academy (QK) were quizzed by MI5 last night.
The teacher, who remained anonymous, told BBC's Newsnight that Emwazi had received anger therapy to help him control his emotions.
"I'd say that Mohammed was a success story of our school, he went on to achieve everything that he wanted to do; he went to a university of his choice, and from the way he started in Year Seven to how he blossomed 'til he left at the end of sixth form was a huge achievement for him, so I'm very surprised ... " she said.
An official statement from the school in north-west London, released by Westminster Council, said it was "shocked and sickened" that the former pupil was involved in terrorism.
"If the allegations are true we are all extremely shocked and sickened by the news.
"All members of staff at QK work very hard to support the education and well-being of our students and protect them from harm.
"In this respect, QK has been extremely proactive in working with the Government's Prevent strategy for a period of time and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future."
It comes as the first pictures of the terrorist emerged in the media, showing him as a smiling young schoolboy and later as a teenage university student.
Downing Street said it was "reprehensible" that advocacy group Cage accused MI5 of being partly to blame for Emwazi turning to violence, because of its alleged harassment and interrogation of the "beautiful young man".
Security services are facing mounting questions over claims that Emwazi, who studied at Westminster University, was known to MI5 for some time before leaving for Syria in 2013 and beginning on the road to international notoriety.
At a press conference in London yesterday, Emwazi's former confidante, the research director of Cage Asim Qureshi, described him as "extremely kind" and "extremely gentle".
Mr Qureshi said Emwazi's family was "in utter shock" and unable to accept his role as executioner for the Islamic State group which has seized control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.
Speaking in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, Mr Cameron declined to comment directly on the Emwazi case, but said it was important for Britain to "get behind" the security services.
"All of the time, (the security services) are having to make incredibly difficult judgments and I think basically they make very good judgments on our behalf, and I think whilst we are in the middle of this vast effort to make sure British citizens are safe, the most important thing is to get behind them."
A No 10 spokeswoman told journalists at a regular Westminster briefing: "It is completely reprehensible to suggest that anyone who carries out such brutal murders - they are the ones responsible and we should not be seeking to put blame on other people, particularly those who are working to keep British citizens safe.
"The people responsible for these murders are the people that we have seen in the videos."
London mayor Boris Johnson went further and condemned Cage's comments as amounting to "an apology for terror".
"It was incredible that people could stand up and pretend that somehow it was the fault of the security forces for trying to apprehend and impede these guys and that that could somehow cause them to be radicalised," he said.
"I think that is beyond satire and amounts to nothing less than an apology for terror. I hope they will be rethinking their position.
"It's absolutely shocking to see that somebody can be effectively nursed in the bosom of the British state, going to schools in London, going to universities in our city and yet come up with this absolutely hideously distorted view of the world."
Scotland Yard has refused to confirm reports of Emwazi's identity.
Cage later offered to meet Mr Cameron and Mr Johnson for a "full and frank discussion" .
"We continue to demand that there be dialogue to identify the causes and the solutions to politically-motivated violence," Cage spokeswoman Cerie Bullivant said.
The parents of American journalist James Foley, beheaded by the Islamic State group, said it was "frightening" that a university-educated British man had turned to terrorism.
Bethany Haines, the daughter of British aid worker David who was also killed by the terrorist organisation, has said families would only feel closure "once there's a bullet between (Emwazi's) eyes)".
Asked whether Mr Cameron shared the same view, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister wants to see the murderers brought to justice."