ISIS Confirms Jihadi John Is Dead Through Comment On The Terrorist Group's Media Outlet
An Islamic State media outlet confirmed the death of "Jihadi John," a member of the terrorist group who was known for his filmed executions of hostages. The organization paid homage to Mohammed Emwazi — aka Jihadi John — in its online English-language magazine Tuesday, acknowledging the militant's death for the first time, according to the Associated Press. In November, the United States stated it was "reasonably certain" that Emwazi was killed in a drone strike in Syria, but until now the assumption was unconfirmed. In the eulogy published beside an unmasked picture of Emwazi, the former Islamic State member is said to have died on Nov. 12 after his car was targeted in a drone strike.
Emwazi first gained international attention after he was linked to American journalist James Foley's beheading. Though his identity was not known at first, Emwazi was featured in the video of Foley's death as well as several other filmed murders of journalists and British aid workers. The militant was born in Kuwait but raised in London, and he had a distinct British accent that became the Islamic State's voice to the Western world.
Emwazi's rise to infamy was jarring to many in the West, as he came from a seemingly normal middle class background. Emwazi did well in school and attended the University of Westminster for computer programming. One of Emwazi's former teachers told The Telegraph:
He was a diligent hard working lovely young man, responsible, quiet. He was everything you could want a student to be.
During the six years following his graduation from Westminster, Mohammed Emwazi reportedly transitioned from a typical college grad to the militant we knew as Jihadi John. A trip to Tanzania is said to have been a turning point in Emwazi's radicalization, BBC News reported, though he may have already had ties to extremists at that point. It is unclear exactly when he joined the Islamic State, but he was a public figure in the group over the course of 2014 and 2015.
Even though Emwazi has only been gone for two months, it seems the Islamic State has already found a replacement. Briton Siddhartha Dhar is thought to be the star of the Islamic State's most recent propaganda video, though there has been no official confirmation. Dhar's sister told BBC News this week that she believes the audio matches what she remembers of her brother's voice, though she isn't certain. But with an accent reminiscent of Emwazi's and the same mocking rhetoric surrounding British Prime Minster David Cameron, the new Jihadi John is a purposeful replacement, regardless of what his real name is.