Man in black unmasked

27 February 2015 - 02:41 By AFP
PITILESS: The terrorist killer named yesterday as Briton Mohammed Emwazi
PITILESS: The terrorist killer named yesterday as Briton Mohammed Emwazi

"Jihadi John", the masked Islamic State militant said to be responsible for beheading Western hostages, was named yesterday as London-based Kuwaiti computer programmer Mohammed Emwazi.

A Washington Post report citing friends, a leading think-tankresearching foreign jihadists and a British security official quoted by the New York Times identified Emwazi as being the executioner.

The Guardian and the BBC in Britain also named him without citing sources.

But London's Metropolitan Police dismissed the reports as "speculation" and said it was "not going to confirm his identity".

The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College in London said it believed the identity "to be accurate and correct".

Cage, a civil rights group that was in contact with Emwazi for two years about his alleged harassment by British security services, said the man bore "striking similarities" to the hooded militant.

But Cage's research director Asim Qureshi told a Washington Post reporter that due to the hood "there was no way he could be 100% certain".

Cage also published correspondence with Emwazi in which he alleged that a British secret service agent named "Nick" tried to recruit him while interrogating him at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport in 2009.

Emwazi said he was returning with two friends after they were expelled from Tanzania, accused of trying to join Islamist militants in Somalia although he said the trip was a holiday after finishing university.

"Why don't you work for us?" Emwazi quoted "Nick" as telling him. After refusing, Emwazi said the officer had told him: "You're going to have a lot of trouble; you're going to be known; you're going to be followed."

After being refused entry to his native Kuwait three times, Cage said Emwazi left his London home in 2013 and it quoted police as telling his family that "they had information that he had entered into Syria".

Emwazi, said by Cage to be 26, was identified for the Post by friends and others familiar with the case, with one acquaintance telling the paper: "I have no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John."

He is from a middle-class family and earned a degree in computer programming before travelling to Syria around 2012, the report said.

The University of Westminster said it had a record of a Mohammed Emwazi leaving college six years ago and was setting up a pastoral team to provide advice and support for students.

"If these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened by the news. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families," it said.

Emwazi is described as being quiet and polite with a stylish dress sense.Cage said he was subjected to "harassment" by British authorities after his aborted trip to Tanzania.