herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

'We'll have closure when Jihadi John has a bullet between his eyes'

Families call for justice as Islamic State killer Jihadi John is identified as son of prosperous London family

A frame from a video released Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, by Islamic State militants that purports to show the militant who beheaded of taxi driver Alan Henning
A frame from a video released Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, by Islamic State militants that purports to show the militant who beheaded of taxi driver Alan Henning
A masked, black-clad militant, who has been identified by the Washington Post newspaper as a Briton named Mohammed Emwazi, stands next to a man purported to be Kenji Goto in this still image from a video obtained from SITE Intel Group website February 26, 2015
A masked, black-clad militant, who has been identified by the Washington Post newspaper as a Briton named Mohammed Emwazi, stands next to a man purported to be David Haines in this still image from a video obtained from SITE Intel Group website February 26, 2015

Security services are facing mounting questions over claims that the British graduate believed to be murderous extremist Jihadi John was known to MI5.

Reports claimed to unmask west Londoner Mohammed Emwazi as the Islamic State (IS) frontman seen posing in several barbaric videos of hostages being murdered.

He was born in Kuwait and comes from a prosperous family in London, where he grew up and graduated with a computer programming degree, according to the Washington Post.

Read More: Evil unmasked: How Jihadi John was identified

He was described as “extremely kind” and “extremely gentle” by a former confidante, but family members of his victims, including US journalist Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines, called for him to be brought to justice.

Asim Qureshi, research director of British advocacy group Cage, claimed Emwazi was interrogated by MI5 and subjected to security agency harassment before becoming the now-infamous militant.

Reacting to reports, Mr Haines’ wife Dragana told the BBC seeing the extremist captured would give the families “moral satisfaction”.

“Ever since we found out David had been murdered I was hoping that this man would be identified and be caught, but it’s difficult to be reminded of it all again,” she said.

JUSTICE

“I hope he will be caught alive – I think that’s the only moral satisfaction of all the families of all the people that he murdered because if he gets killed in heavy action it will be an honourable death for him and that’s the last thing I would want for someone like him.

“I think he needs to be put to justice but not in that way.”

But Mr Haines’ daughter Bethany told ITV victims’ families would feel closure only “once there’s a bullet between his (Emwazi’s) eyes”.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the family of Mr Sotloff said: “We want to sit in a courtroom, watch him sentenced and see him sent to a supermax prison.”

Earlier, Mr Qureshi said he had come to know “beautiful young man” Emwazi before he fled for Syria.

Mr Foley’s mother, Diane, said she forgave her son’s killer.

“It saddens me, his (Emwazi’s) continued hatred. He felt wronged, now we hate him – now that just prolongs the hatred. We need to end it,” she said.

“As a mum I forgive him. You know, the whole thing is tragic, an ongoing tragedy.”

The paper also quoted Tory MP Sir Gerald Howarth as saying security services should explain how the militant was “able to slip through the net”.

“If they are thought to be that valuable that we try to recruit them, if they are that important they need to be watched,” he said.

Mr Qureshi said the country’s national security policy “only increased alienation” since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and cited similarities between the case of Emwazi and that of Michael Adebolajo, who murdered soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich in 2013.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Qureshi described Emwazi as “the most humble young person that I knew”. “He (Emwazi) was such a beautiful young man, really. It’s hard to imagine the trajectory, but it is not a trajectory that’s unfamiliar with us,” he said.

“We’ve seen Michael Adebolajo, once again somebody that I have met. He came to me for help, looking to change his situation.

OUTSIDERS

“When are we going to finally learn that when we treat people as if they’re outsiders, they are going to feel like outsiders and they will look for belonging elsewhere?”

And in a swipe at authorities, Mr Qureshi added: “A narrative of injustice has taken root. A narrative of impunity that there is no accountability for the way in which our security agencies operate.

“Unless we arrest that narrative, we are just going to see these things happening over and over again.

“People will feel like they are pushed out and that they don’t have a place to belong. And when somebody is giving them a message, ‘Come, we will give you a sense of belonging’, how can argue against that?”

Jihadi John rose to notoriety after he first appeared in a video posted online last August, in which he appeared to kill the American journalist James Foley.

Dressed all in black with a balaclava covering all but his eyes and the ridge of his nose and a holster under his left arm, he reappeared in videos of the beheadings of US journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, and American aid worker Peter Kassig.

Last month, the militant appeared in a video with the Japanese hostages Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto, shortly before they were killed. Kuwaiti-born Emwazi is believed to have travelled to Syria in 2013, according to Cage. The organisation said his family was in “utter shock” and unable to accept that Emwazi could be Jihadi John.

hnews@herald.ie

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