The fluent English-speaking jihadist known as “Jihadi John” who has beheaded several hostages in widely-circulated videos on the Internet has been identified as a well-educated Londoner named Mohammed Emwazi.
“I have no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John,” one of Emwazi’s close friends told The Washington Post in an interview published on Thursday. “He was like a brother to me. … I am sure it is him.”
Emwazi was born in Kuwait, came from “a well-to-do family” and “grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming,” the Post reported. “He is believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State.”
“I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London,” he reportedly wrote in a 2010 email to a representative of a British human rights group after being detained by British counterterrorism officials on his way to Kuwait. “A person imprisoned & controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace & country, Kuwait.”
One of his friends, according to the Post, said that “He was upset and wanted to start a life elsewhere.”
Researchers at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College in London said that they “believe that the identity and name published by the Washington Post and now in the public realm, to be accurate and correct.”
“The fact that ‘Jihadi John’ has been unveiled in this manner demonstrates that whatever efforts are made, the ability to mask one’s identity is limited or in fact impossible, and their true identities will eventually be revealed,” the college’s Shiraz Maher said in a statement.