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‘Jihadi John’ horrified public, emboldened extremists

His first filmed killing was that of American journalist James Foley in a video released in August 2014.

By: AP | Dubai | Updated: November 13, 2015 7:23 pm
Jihadi John, Jihadi john ISIS, Islamic State militant, Jihadi John IS, Jihadi John dead, Mohammed Emwazi, Jihadi John Emwazi, ISIS news FILE – This still image from undated video released by Islamic State militants on Oct. 3, 2014, purports to show the militant known as Jihadi John. A U.S. drone strike targeted a vehicle in Syria believed to be transporting the masked Islamic State militant known as “Jihadi John” on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, according to American officials. (AP Photo/File)

The Islamic State group militant known as “Jihadi John,” who was targeted in a U.S. drone strike, horrified the world with his brutal beheadings of hostages. But his videos, with sneering taunts of the West, served as a recruiting tool for those drawn to the dark, bloody world of extremism.

Mohammed Emwazi’s brown eyes peering out from a black mask and his London accent became the first contact many around the world had with the group, though the extremists carried out other mass killings, rapes and enslavements in their march across Iraq and Syria.

The reason was the slickly produced, sound-bite-quality butchery he and others committed before the camera. Their victims included U.S., British and Japanese hostages.

His first filmed killing was that of American journalist James Foley in a video released in August 2014. Tabloids soon made famous the moniker “Jihadi John,” based on nicknames freed hostages said they gave their British-sounding captors, a reference to Beatles member John Lennon.

In some ways, the violence he committed was not new — the dark horror of beheading videos haunted the Middle East before.

The Islamic State’s predecessor, al-Qaida in Iraq, released footage in 2004 of the decapitation of American businessman Nicholas Berg. In the video of his killing, Foley wore an orange prison-style jumpsuit similar to the one Berg wore at his death.

But while the statement in the video of Berg’s killing was in Arabic, Emwazi spoke English in his videos, making the message even easier for the world to understand. Born in Kuwait, Emwazi grew up in Britain, giving him added symbolic weight.

“You’re hearing it in your own language so the threat sounds all the more menacing,” said Raffaello Pantucci, the author of “We Love Death As You Love Life: Britain’s Suburban Terrorists” and the director of international security studies at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute.

“It speaks to the audience and says, you know, ‘We are you. … You think we’re this alien thing but actually no, we’re from within your very communities,'” Pantucci added.

After Foley’s killing, Emwazi appeared in other videos of beheadings, including the mass killing of captive Syrian soldiers. In most, he acts as a narrator, taunting the West and promising an Islamic State victory, though the videos don’t make clear if he carried out all of the actual killings.

Militant sympathizers uploaded the carnage to websites and shared them via mobile phone apps in a way impossible only 10 years earlier. That drew more people curious about the Islamic State’s apocalyptic beliefs, inspiring some to join the militant’s self-declared “caliphate.”

Whether Emwazi was killed in the U.S strike in Syria remains unclear. He has been one of the West’s top targets after Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his other lieutenants.

President Barack Obama said America would “be relentless” in pursuing Foley’s killers.

“When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done,” Obama promised.

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  1. D
    Nov 13, 2015 at 10:25 pm
    That shows the real menacing face of the 'Religion of Peace' and its 'faithful' followers!
    1. P
      Proud Indian
      Nov 14, 2015 at 3:55 pm
      Finishing off Saddam and his party was the gravest error George Bush Jr ever made. Baathist party was the right check in place to control all these fringe elements. Now that US opened the Pandora box, the world is suffering the consequences. It was because of his Zelous christian ideology that world is afflicted by this plague. Hope US never gets another mistake like him, as president ever again.
      1. P
        Proud Indian
        Nov 14, 2015 at 3:50 pm
        Ideally all the extremist who want to join the ISIS war should be encouraged to go ahead. This is the best way to weed out these rotten apples from among the peace loving muslims. It is much easier to target and finish off these Cancerous elements when they are grouped in one place.
        1. V
          Nov 13, 2015 at 11:21 pm
          It is difficult to say who is worst- Jihadi John, Gaddafi, Osama, Saddam or Abubakr Albagdadi? stan has a stadium named after Gaddafi to honor him!!