US air strike tar­gets ‘Ji­hadi John’ in Syria

Wash­ing­ton ‘rea­son­ably cer­tain’ Emwazi is dead

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

LON­DON: A US strike on Syria that tar­geted Bri­tish mil­i­tant “Ji­hadi John” was “an act of self-de­fense”, Bri­tain’s Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron said yes­ter­day, while ac­knowl­edg­ing his death was “not yet cer­tain”. Cameron said the op­er­a­tion on Thurs­day against Mo­hammed Emwazi, who ap­peared in a string of graphic videos show­ing the ex­e­cu­tion of Western hostages, was a com­bined Bri­tish-US ef­fort. In a state­ment de­liv­ered out­side his Down­ing Street of­fice, Cameron said that, if con­firmed, Emwazi’s death would be “a strike at the heart” of the Is­lamic State mil­i­tant (IS) group.

The US mil­i­tary is “rea­son­ably cer­tain” a US drone strike killed the Is­lamic State mil­i­tant known as “Ji­hadi John,” a Bri­tish cit­i­zen who ap­peared in videos of mil­i­tants be­head­ing Western jour­nal­ists and aid work­ers, a spokesman said yes­ter­day.

Army Colonel Steve War­ren, a spokesman for the US-led coali­tion fight­ing Is­lamic State, told a Pen­tagon brief­ing that Mo­hammed Emwazi was thought to have been killed in the Syr­ian town of Raqa by a US drone fir­ing a Hell­fire mis­sile, but that the mil­i­tary still needed fi­nal ver­i­fi­ca­tion.

US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry, speak­ing on a visit to Tunis, warned the group’s “days are num­bered”, as Iraqi Kur­dish of­fi­cials de­clared that IS had been beaten back from the town of Sin­jar in north­ern Iraq. An­a­lysts said the im­pact of Emwazi’s death would likely be sym­bolic rather than tac­ti­cal for the ji­hadist group which con­trols swathes of Iraq and Syria and is known for wide­spread atroc­i­ties.

The Pen­tagon said Thurs­day’s air strike hit Raqa, the group’s de facto cap­i­tal in war-torn Syria. US me­dia re­ported that it was a drone strike. “Emwazi, a Bri­tish cit­i­zen, par­tic­i­pated in the videos show­ing the mur­ders of US jour­nal­ists Steven Sot­loff and James Fo­ley, US aid worker Ab­dul-Rah­man Kas­sig, Bri­tish aid work­ers David Haines and Alan Hen­ning, Ja­panese jour­nal­ist Kenji Goto, and a num­ber of other hostages,” the Pen­tagon said in a state­ment. He was last seen in the video show­ing Goto’s ex­e­cu­tion in Jan­uary.

Emwazi, a Lon­don com­puter pro­gram­mer, was born in Kuwait to a state­less fam­ily of Iraqi ori­gin. His par­ents moved to Bri­tain in 1993 af­ter their hopes of ob­tain­ing Kuwaiti cit­i­zen­ship were quashed. Dubbed “Ji­hadi John” af­ter hostages nick­named a group of IS guards The Bea­tles, he first ap­peared in a video in Au­gust 2014 show­ing the be­head­ing of Fo­ley, a 40-year-old Amer­i­can free­lance jour­nal­ist cap­tured in Syria in 2012. — Agen­cies


LON­DON: Jour­nal­ists knock on doors in Lon­don yes­ter­day at a res­i­den­tial ad­dress where Kuwaiti-born Lon­don com­puter pro­gram­mer Mo­hammed Emwazi, (inset) iden­ti­fied by ex­perts and the me­dia as masked IS mil­i­tant ‘Ji­hadi John’, is once be­lieved to have lived.

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