‘Jihadi John’: Islamic State Killer Is Identified as Londoner Mohammed Emwazi

Souad Mekhennet and Adam Goldman, Washington Post, February 26, 2015

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.


A representative of a British human rights group who had been in contact with Emwazi before he left for Syria also said he believed Emwazi was Jihadi John, a moniker given to him by some of the hostages he once held.

“There was an extremely strong resemblance,” Asim Qureshi, research director at the rights group, CAGE, said when shown one of the videos and asked to confirm whether Emwazi could be “Jihadi John.”

“This is making me feel fairly certain that this is the same person,” Qureshi added.


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.

The friends, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation, believe that Emwazi started to radicalize after a planned safari in Tanzania following his graduation from the University of Westminster.

Emwazi and two friends–a German convert to Islam named Omar and another man, Abu Talib–never made it on the trip. Once they landed in Dar es Salaam, in May 2009, they were detained by police and held overnight. It’s unclear whether the reason for the detention was made clear to the three, but they were eventually deported.

Emwazi flew to Amsterdam, where he claimed that an officer from MI5, Britain’s domestic security agency, accused him of trying to reach Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabab operates in the southern part of the country, according to e-mails that he sent to Qureshi and that were provided to The Post.

Emwazi denied the accusation and claimed that MI5 representatives had tried to recruit him. But a former hostage said Jihadi John was obsessed with Somalia and made his captives watch videos about al-Shabab, which is allied with al-Qaeda.

The episode was described in the Independent, a British newspaper, which identified Emwazi as Muhammad ibn Muazzam.

Emwazi and his friends were allowed to return to Britain, where he met with Qureshi in the fall of 2009 to discuss what had happened. “Mohammed was quite incensed by his treatment, that he had been very unfairly treated,” Qureshi said.

Shortly afterward, Emwazi decided to move to his birthplace, Kuwait, where he landed a job working for a computer company, according to the e-mails he wrote to Qureshi. He came back to London twice, the second time to finalize his wedding plans to a woman in Kuwait.

In June 2010, however, counterterrorism officials in Britain detained him again–this time fingerprinting him and searching his belongings. When he tried to fly back to Kuwait the next day, he was prevented from doing so.


Nearly four months later, when a court in New York sentenced Aafia Siddiqui, an al-Qaeda operative convicted for the attempted murder of U.S. personnel in Afghanistan, Emwazi expressed sympathy for her, saying he had “heard the upsetting news regarding our sister. . . . This should only keep us firmer towards fighting for freedom and justice!!!”

In the interview, Qureshi said he last heard from Emwazi in January 2012, when Emwazi sent him an e-mail seeking advice.

“This is a young man who was ready to exhaust every single kind of avenue within the machinery of the state to bring a change for his personal situation,” Qureshi said. In the end, he felt “actions were taken to criminalize him and he had no way to do something against these actions.”

Close friends of Emwazi’s also said his situation in London had made him desperate to leave the country. It’s unclear exactly when he reached Syria or how.


A former hostage who was debriefed by officials upon release said that Jihadi John was part of a team guarding Western captives at a prison in Idlib, Syria, in 2013. The hostages nicknamed the facility “the box.” Emwazi was joined by two other men with British accents, including one who was dubbed “George.” A former hostage said Emwazi participated in the waterboarding of four Western hostages.

Former hostages described George as the leader of the trio. Jihadi John, they said, was quiet and intelligent. “He was the most deliberate,” a former hostage said.


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  • David Ashton

    Meanwhile, what is left of the British Army is off to Ukraine….

  • superlloyd

    Pathetic aplogism from this Cage idiot. The inexcusable can’t be excused.

  • IstvanIN

    Rush kept calling this guy a Brit. Makes me nauseous.

    • He’s no more a Brit than I am. We at least had a screaming divorce in 1776. Islam wants the whole world or nothing.

      I am voting for “nothing”, in their case.

      • Bossman

        Yes, they want the whole world so do the Russians, the Chinese and the hordes of Asia. We gotta keep them at bay.

        • Reynardine


          • Spaniard in LA

            Is Bossman White? I’m curious.

          • Realist

            Is he sane?

        • How many hordes are there in Asia, anymore? My wife isn’t exactly a “horde”. She’s about 4’9″ and rather pretty. Sayaka has a fun sense of humor. “How many hordes are there in a Chinese platoon?” she just asked.

          We don’t hate Russians here, and while my wife dislikes and distrusts Chinese, we don’t hate them, either.

          • IstvanIN

            You made me laugh. You, of course, realize that your wife would hardly constitute a “horde”. A horde would more properly consist of rowdy men on the attack, not a lone woman.

          • She has me laughing now:

            “How many boards could a Mongol hoard if a Mongol could hoard boards?”

          • IstvanIN

            You have a keeper there.

          • Speedy Steve

            When Senator Packwood got busted for grab-assing some hill rat in a senate elevator, I called WNTR talk radio and asked “How much wood would a Packwood pack if a Packwood would pack wood?” The host lost it.

          • Weaponized humor is very powerful medicine.

          • Americaandthewestshouldbewhite

            Is your wife asian?????????

          • She’s Japanese, but has been referred to as a white gal with slanty eyes.

          • Americaandthewestshouldbewhite

            Well I guess better than marrying a negress. Didn’t you find a pure white girl. Not many of marriageable quality I guess around thanks to feminism. Do you have any kids???

        • listenupbub

          I’d almost be happier under Russia, since Russia tries to maintain a white ethnic culture.

          Putin would at least keep the Mexicans out.

    • Speedy Steve

      Rush Lim-bore.

  • Not poor, not destitute, not uneducated.

    This news is going to make Marie Harf’s wee little brain freeze.

    • Blackfish

      I would LOVE to see her & her idiotic compatriot Jen Psaki captured by ISIS and sold as concubines!

    • TheLastAngel

      But still he still has a head full of paranoia, inferiority complexes and rage. Most muslims are like that.

      In Germany, almost every day now we have a working, muslim family man flipping out over his daughter or wife and committing murder on a whim. Ruining his life and his family.

      These people are time bombs.

  • Samuel Hathaway

    Note the sickening way the media is trying to put “the boy-next-door” face on this murderous monster… “He had a beard and was mindful of making eye contact with women, friends said.”

    This stuff needs to be said at his eulogy, if at all.

  • Samuel Hathaway

    Note the use of the name “John” in Jihadi John. Note the ethnic/nationality of “Briton.” Trying to make him out as just like the rest of us except he went off the wrong road of signing up with jihad. He’s no different, and you’d be proud to have him as your boy, except that he has a few anger issues.

    Folks, we’re being softened up to be led to the slaughter.

    • Exactly.
      It’s not FEMA camps or FEMA buses that I am afraid of, it is the political correctness that is designed to separate us from our survival instincts.

      • I have actually investigated some of the locations of these purported FEMA camps, and have yet to find anything in these areas. Please remember that FEMA was the organization that totally botched disaster relief in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, after these storms were predicted well in advance. They’re not going to lock anyone up, because they’re just Afritardistanis with GEDs.

        • Blackfish

          Just like any of the other alphabet agencies of the government: DMV, TSA, USPS, IRS, etc.

          Just excuses to blow taxpayer money on hiring unqualified brown people.

    • Ultimate187

      “John” because they didn’t know his identity until now. “Briton” because he is/was a UK citizen. It is what it is.

      • Samuel Hathaway

        A more accurate description of this creep would have been Jihadi Abdul, or Jihadi Mohammed. How about just calling him an Arabic invader from Kuwait who happens to be taking up the space of a real Briton?

  • Race Heretic

    “British” member of ISIS, “Westerner”, “Londoner” – lies. He’s what, Kuwaiti? Arabs aren’t Britons, even if they live there.

    • Samuel Hathaway

      Actually, I’m white but when I move to the Congo, Africa… I’m going to put “Congo Pygmy” as my ethnicity/nationality. Why should I be treated any differently?

      • Race Heretic

        Hahaha of course! Those pygmies racistly and selfishly refuse the title of “pygmy” to tall whites, just like we refuse to share the title of “American” with Mexicans.

        • Samuel Hathaway

          Oh, I forgot to mention that when I move to Japan, I will actually be “Japanese”, along with my congo pygmy wife, 20-years old and black as coal… she will also become “Japanese.” After all, we are in Japan.

          • Diana Moon Glampers

            Funny, but Congo Pygmy wife made me throw up in my mouth a little.

          • Samuel Hathaway

            Good, I’m glad you have a sense of humor. Playing with Mexican’s minds over Manifest Destiny is also a lot of fun… and watch them look at you like a deer in the headlights.

          • Don’t we call “Manifest Destiny” “Lebensraum” now?

          • Race Heretic

            LOL I laughed pretty hard.

          • In order to receive Japanese citizenship, you would have to speak, read and write the language. You’d also have to change your name. I would thus become Masahiro Escottu. It can be written in Kanji. I would also have to do something very unpleasant: get a job. I haven’t had one in nine years, and am trying for ten.

            While they have a Finnish man as a member of their parliament (Diet), I doubt they would want a Bongonian congoid.

          • TheLastAngel

            So you have tried bushmeat?

      • Speedy Steve

        Just don’t put “albino” in the box. You’ll be chopped into pieces and sold for powerful juju.

  • Frank_DeScushin

    College educated and wealthy? They must have the wrong guy. Liberals have assured me that lack of education and poverty are the main reasons why Muslims turn to violence.

    • JohnEngelman

      Mohammed Emwazi has a degree in computer programming, but we do not know if he got a job in computer programming. The computer field has become competitive and specialized.

      In The True Believer Eric Hoffer said that political and religious fanaticism serve as a substitute for loss of self confidence.

      Joseph Goebbels earned a PhD., but he failed in his efforts to become a novelist and a playwright. Adolf Hitler had an IQ of 141, but he failed in his efforts to become an artist and an architect.

      • Adolf Hitler was an amateur. He had only been at a relatively static front and was in too big a hurry. I think he believed his own propaganda.

        • Tooth Barkington

          He had to moderate her; her maiden name was Sheckelgruver, and she was rumored to be Jewish.

          • He was partly Jewish on his father’s side. His painting looked quite nice, mostly Austrian landscape work. Part of me wants to run the all-night firing squads after the revolution, but I believe I’ll stick to making fishing tackle.

          • JohnEngelman

            Adolf Hitler’s father was the illegitimate son of a German servant woman who worked for a wealthy Jewish family. A son of that Jewish family paid Hitler’s grandmother child support until Hitler’s father was in his twenties.

          • Speedy Steve


      • Frank_DeScushin

        Considering that Emwazi is busy cutting off people’s heads, I’m assuming that he’s not holding down an office computer programming job.

        Emwazi’s current economic situation is irrelevant, though. When Liberals discuss poverty being the impetus for radicalization, they’re almost always talking about being raised poor or having no jobs available. So we should look at Emwazi’s economic situation at the point he chose to become radicalized. We know that Emwazi was raised in a solidly middle-class family so the excuse of being raised in poverty is gone, and we know that Emwazi has a college degree and his family lives in a nation where there are jobs for people with college degrees regardless of whether it’s in their chosen field. So the excuse of absolutely no employment opportunities is also out the window.

        If true poverty is what drove people to become radicalized then Emwazi, Osama Bin Laden, and countless other jihadis with professional degrees and/or professional jobs would not become radicalized, and hundreds of millions of Muslims living in true poverty would likely be nearly as radical as Emwazi — yet they’re not.

        • JohnEngelman

          I am not suggesting that British society has any moral responsibility for what Mohammed Emwazi became. I am trying to understand his motivation.

          The True Believer is a valuable aid in understanding Islamic fanaticism, and white supremacy. In it Eric Hoffer writes, “The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”

          • If they think it is so wonderful, then why do they cover their faces when they do this?

          • JohnEngelman

            If they are identified they are likely to be killed.

          • That’s one of the occupational hazards of beheading folks.

          • listenupbub

            I think a better way of putting it is that we group together to decrease anxiety- anxiety which first exists because evolution programmed us first to create groups and communities to increase our chances of survival.

            This guy just felt like an outsider in Britain, and ISIS offered him a community. He acts this way not because of some weird psychological “compensation” for his being a loser, but because evolution has made us want to stick to other people. He probably developed issues long before he was even in college- back when he was a good high school student- for the simple reason that he did not fit in as a kid.

            It also is important if he was probably convinced by the eschatological propaganda.

        • Would decapitations count for an H1B visa qualification? Evidently President Orangutan wants them all here. Emwazi could probably find a good job as a human resources director in Corporate America.

  • Americaandthewestshouldbewhite

    When did this Muslim become a ‘Londoner’????????????????

    • Speedy Steve

      The correct term is mohammedan.

      • Americaandthewestshouldbewhite

        Just like blacks the correct term is NEGRO and a female it is a NEGRESS.

  • Speedy Steve

    He had a college degree and didn’t want to manage daddy’s fish and chip shop!

  • Americaandthewestshouldbewhite

    Another reason why these muslims need to be kicked out and also stopped from entering the west.

  • Light from the East

    As long as European politicians are tolerant to these Muslims, there will always be potential extreme terrorists, home-grown! Bring the seed of evil home and wait for its blooming, what do you expect? An endless war against the West.