Identity of ISIS Killer 'Jihadi John' Unmasked as Wealthy London Native, Britons Outrage

( [email protected] ) Feb 26, 2015 11:48 AM EST
Jihadi John
'Jihadi John' pictured with Japanese Journalist Kenji Goto, who was later beheaded by the militant.

"Jihadi John," the Islamic State terrorist responsible for the beheading of multiple hostages, including Christian journalist Kenji Goto, has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a British citizen from a wealthy family in West London.

According to the Washington Post, Emwazi was born in Kuwait, but grew up in London, where he attended Westminster University and graduated with a degree in computer programming. He is thought to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State terrorist group.

"I have no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John," said one of Emwazi's close friends who identified him in an interview with The Washington Post. "He was like a brother to me. . . . I am sure it is him."

Over the past several months, the 27 year old jihadist has become the internationally-recognized face of ISIS, appearing in the gruesome videos of the beheadings of Japanese Christian journalist Kenji Goto, US journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines, British taxi driver Alan Henning, and US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known as Peter.

The infamous terrorist is also believed to have strong ties to the funding of militant group Al Shabab, which recently threatened to carry out terror attacks on London's Oxford Street.

The uncovering of Emwazi's identity represents a major success for authorities, who have been attempting to unmask him since the videos were posted last summer. The Daily Mail reports that authorities first noticed his British accent, which allowed them to narrow down the search, and then used other investigative sources to determine his identity.

However, citizens of West London have expressed horror over the naming of Jihadi John and have called for stronger anti-radicalization measures to be taken in the country.

"It's a big shock for us to have these kind of things where we live," one resident of West London, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Daily Mail.

"This is horrific, shocking-I am ashamed that he is from our region of the world. He must be severely punished for his crimes," added another Briton on Twitter.

"This represents a failure of the British government to properly protect from radicalization of young men...sickening," added another Twitter user. 

A spokesperson for the University of Westminster, where Emwazi attended, said the school was both "shocked and sickened" by the revelation.

"A Mohammed Emwazi left the University six years ago. If these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened by the news. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families," the spokesperson said. 

'We have students from 150 countries and their safety is of paramount concern. With other universities in London, we are working to implement the Government's Prevent strategy to tackle extremism.'

British Prime Minister David Cameron has previously called for the infamous terrorist to be punished for his crimes.

"These videos are absolutely horrific and depraved,' the Prime Minister said of the ISIS videos in which Emwazi beheads several hostages. "And obviously I take the time to see what they are doing so I understand what families have been going through.'

Speaking in November, Mr Cameron said: 'You should be in no doubt that I want Jihadi John to face justice for the appalling acts that have been carried out in Syria.'