Back in September, the FBI successfully identified "Jihadi John," the masked executioner who appeared in the beheading videos of James Foley and Steven Sotloff. It did this using audio of "John's" voice and accent, and with the help of the public and international agencies. Now, it's hoping to do the same with another masked ISIS member: the FBI has asked the public to help identify an ISIS militant with a North American accent.
On Tuesday, the FBI posted an official call for help on its website along with a portion of the video in which the militant appears. Michael Steinbach, assistant director of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, stated:
We need the public's assistance in identifying U.S. persons going to fight overseas with terrorist groups or who are returning home from fighting overseas.
In the video, a man whose face is partially obscured by the same black mask that "Jihadi John" wore speaks in both perfect Arabic and English. The ease with which he transitions seamlessly between the two languages denotes that he may be a man of high influence within the terror group.
The 55-minute video, titled "Flames of War" and released on September 19, shows a group of ISIS prisoners, who the masked man claims are Syrian soldiers, digging their own graves before the militants carry out their execution. In the video the man warns: "Fighting has just begun."
The FBI believes that the video was released to appeal to a Western audience for the purpose of recruiting. According to intelligence officials and analysts, based on the militant's accent when speaking English, he could be from the northern U.S. border near Canada or Canada. If he is identified as a North American, he will be the first North American ISIS member to commit a war crime on camera. Last month, the FBI announced that it had identified the masked man in the beheading videos using the man's London accent.
According to FBI director James Comey, there are about a dozen known Americans fighting overseas for ISIS, and they pose a serious threat if their U.S. passports allow them to return home to possibly carry out terrorist attacks. Comey told CBS' 60 Minutes in an episode that aired on Sunday that the FBI "will track them very carefully."
For now, the FBI is focusing on one, using the "Flames of War" video as a lead. Per the agency's website:
The FBI needs your help identifying the individuals in this video as well as anyone traveling abroad to join terrorist organizations. Please send tips to www.fbi.gov/ISILtips or call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) with information.