Death of Jihadi John Confirmed by ISIL

Lawrence Lan, Staff Writer

On August 19, 2014, a video of the brutal execution of James Wright Foley, a freelance journalist held prisoner in Syria for approximately two years, was uploaded to YouTube. This was the event that opened the eyes of American people to ISIL, or ISIS. The man who “did the deed” was a British-Arab man in his twenties. His real name was Mohammed Emwazi, but the infamous nickname that everyone knew him by was Jihadi John.

James Wright Foley’s execution was followed by seven more brutal beheadings, prior to which the victim and killer both read prepared statements. Emwazi was involved in most of them.

These events and the rapid advancement of ISIL forces in the Middle East pushed ISIL to the top of concerning international issues: ISIL now controls almost half of Syria and Iraq. Its ambitions to conquer the entire Mediterranean–and then some–are horrifying.

To counter ISIL, the United States has been launching airstrikes ever since September 2014. Over the past seventeen months, there have been reportedly 8,600 airstrikes and approximately 20,000 ISIL deaths.

On November 12, 2015, Jihadi John was one of those supposedly killed in an airstrike.

Yesterday, January 19, 2016, ISIL confirmed the death of Jihadi John. However, Dabiq magazine, the official ISIL magazine, says that contrary to the belief that an airstrike killed him, Emwazi was shot in the back of the head during a battle in Syria.

Emwazi grew up in Britain and was of Kuwaiti descent. He graduated as a computer science major in Britain. He had traveled to Somalia several times from 2006 to 2009, first inspired and then obsessed with the rebel group, al-Shabab. He traveled back and forth from his home country of Britain and Kuwait, and worked as a salesman in Kuwait during these years. However, in 2010, counter-terrorism officials in Great Britain detained him from going to Kuwait. He had tried exploring other options of work, such as going to Saudi Arabia to teach English, but the trip failed. He then traveled to Syria in 2012, and joined ISIL in 2013.

According to Yahoo News, “He had been described by a former hostage as a psychopath who enjoyed threatening his Western captives.” He was nicknamed “Jihadi John” after John Lennon from the Beetles. His hostages gave him the nickname because he was one of four cell members who spoke English.

Emwazi apologized to his family after he was identified as “Jihadi John.” According to the Sunday Times, he said that he was sorry for “the problems and trouble the revelation of his identity has caused” to his siblings and friends.