Did A Former London Rapper Execute James Foley?
On Monday, British newspaper The Times identified the man believed to be "Jihadi John," the ISIS frontman who executed James Foley in the video ISIS made public last Tuesday. Though British intelligence agencies have remained tight-lipped, it's believed the chief suspect is former rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a 24-year-old Londoner who traveled to Syria last year to fight with the militant group. ISIS counts hundreds of British members in their ranks; estimates range from 300 to 1,500.
In the video, Foley's executioner spoke with what analysts described as a London accent. In London, Abdel Bary performed under the name L. Jinny, and appeared on a handful of radio shows. Earlier this year, he Tweeted a photo of himself holding a severed head — his Twitter account was suspended shortly afterwards — and posed with a machine gun and army fatigues in Facebook photos.
Two years ago, Abdel Bary's father was arrested for allegedly participating in Al Qaeda's attacks on U.S. embassies in 1998. Abdel Bary is one of the four children of Adel Abdul Bary, who was extradited from the U.K. to the U.S. and was considered a close accomplice of Osama Bin Laden.
In a rap posted to his Facebook page, the younger Bary spoke of his anger over his father's arrest.
The day when they came and took my dad, I could have killed a cop or two when I went to look back. Imagine then I was only 6, picture what I’d do now with a loaded stick.
Because "Jihadi John" spoke in the ISIS video, and voice samples from Abdel Bary are easily found, intelligence experts have used voice recognition technology to try to identify the executioner.
There are still two other British suspects intelligence officials believe could be "Jihadi John." A former hostage told The Guardian that "John" was the leader of the ISIS group, along with two other Britons — nicknamed "John, Paul, and Ringo" after The Beatles by their captives. While The Times reported that intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 had identified the man they suspect to have executed Foley, the agencies remained tight-lipped about which man their suspect was.
In a statement, the U.S. State Department told USA Today:
We're not in a position to say exactly who the man in the video is yet, but we are actively working with our British counterparts to determine that every day. There are a variety of ways to do this, and we're putting the full force of our resources behind that effort now.