WaPo: "Jihadi John" identified by intelligence officials as ... a wealthy dilettante

So much for the jobs program. The ISIS terrorist who became known as “Jihadi John” for his British accent in videos depicting the brutal beheading of Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff has been identified today by the Washington Post as Mohammed Emwazi, based on information from intelligence sources. Emwazi’s life was hardly Dickensian:

The world knows him as “Jihadi John,” the masked man with a British accent who has beheaded several hostages held by the Islamic State and who taunts audiences in videos circulated widely online.

But his real name, according to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming. He is believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State, the group whose barbarity he has come to symbolize. …

The Kuwaiti-born Emwazi, in his mid-20s, appears to have left little trail on social media or elsewhere online. Those who knew him say he was polite and had a penchant for wearing stylish clothes while adhering to the tenets of his Islamic faith. He had a beard and was mindful of making eye contact with women, friends said.

He was raised in a middle-class neighborhood in London and on occasion prayed at a mosque in Greenwich.

British intelligence had identified him as a risk as far back as 2009, when they stopped Emwazi from traveling to Somalia to join al-Shabaab. After getting kicked out of Dar es Salaam, he and two others were sent to Amsterdam, where MI-5 detained and questioned him. They let him return to the UK, though, where Emwazi’s radicalization continued. A year later, they stopped him from going to Kuwait. Two years after that, Emwazi found his way out of the UK and into Syria.

It doesn’t appear that the catalyst for Emwazi was grinding poverty, in other words, and a jobs program wouldn’t have had much impact on him. The cause of Emwazi’s “violent extremism” was his adoption of radical Islam, and the lure of jihad overseas — first in Somalia, and then in Syria.

The British are hardly alone in this problem. ABC News’ Brian Ross reports on the hunt for the terrorist who led the slaughter of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt, purportedly on the shores of Libya. The masked terrorist called the location “south of Rome,” and the way he said it has intelligence experts pretty sure he’s an American:

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The accent is clearly American. It will be interesting to see if ISIS Joe was as well known to American counterterrorism officials as Jihadi John was to our British counterparts.


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Jazz Shaw 1:01 PM on April 01, 2023