The terrorist who appeared in several ISIS beheading videos, butchering victims and taunting America in a British accent, has reportedly been killed in a drone strike. CNN reports the strike specifically targeted Jihadi John, aka Mohammed Emwazi. It’s ABC News reporter Brian Ross who says that the mission was successful and that Emwazi is dead.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Pentagon Is ‘Reasonably Certain’ He’s Dead
Emwazi was targeted in the ISIS controlled city of Raqqa, reports CNN. Officially, the Pentagon is still “assessing the results” of the strike, according to CNN’s Jim Sciutto. Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook told the media on the night of November 12 that he would release further information “as and where appropriate.” The strike targeted a vehicle in which Emwazi was traveling with one other person.
On November 13, Army spokesman Colonel Steve Warren made a statement, saying, “We are reasonably certain that we killed the target that we intended to kill, which is Jihadi John.” Warren described the strike as “routine” but acknowledged that this target’s notoriety makes it a higher-profile kill. “This guy was a human animal, and killing him is probably making the world a little bit better place.” Watch Warren’s comments in the video above.
According to the Twitter account for the activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a missile hit Emwazi’s car at around 4:51 p.m. Eastern time on November 12. The vehicle was outside of an ISIS courthouse when the strike occurred. After the initial explosion, a group of ISIS fighters “ringed that vehicle” to prevent anyone else from getting close.
2. Emwazi Was the Front Man for the Islamic State’s Most Brutal Videos
He had appeared in the execution videos of Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Alan Henning and Abdul-Rhaman Kassig, known also as a Peter Kassig. In all of those clips, Emwazi appeared wearing a black robe with a ski mask.
In a full statement, Cook said “Emwazi, a British citizen, participated in the videos showing the murders of U.S. journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, U.S. aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and a number of other hostages. We are assessing the results of tonight’s operation and will provide additional information as and where appropriate.”
3. James Foley’s Mother Isn’t Satisfied
Speaking to ABC News, James Foley’s mother, Diane Foley, said “This huge effort to go after the this deranged man filled with hate when they can’t make half that effort to save the hostages while these young Americans were still alive.” Meanwhile Louise Woodward-Styles, a friend of David Haines, told CNN “There’s just sadness. It reminds you of the loss.”
Emwazi is 27 years old. He was born in Kuwait but raised in the United Kingdom, specifically west London. In 2009, he graduated with a degree in Information Systems with Business Management from the University of Westminster. He is a Sunni muslim. The Washington Post reported that “Emwazi started to radicalize after a planned safari in Tanzania following his graduation from the University of Westminster.” He’s thought to have joined ISIS in 2012.
4. A Former Hostage Called Emwazi a ‘Bloodthirsty Psychopath’
He is a wanted man by the FBI, MI5 and Scotland Yard, reported the Guardian after Foley’s execution. Previously, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Emwazi a “coward behind a mask.” While Spanish journalist Javier Espinosa who spent time in captivity with ISIS described him as a “bloodthirsty psychopath.” Speaking after the news that Emwazi was dead, British Prime Minister David Cameron said if the terrorist is dead it will “strike at the heart of ISIS…We always said we will do whatever is necessary to track down Emwazi and stop him taking the lives of others”
The Daily Telegraph reports that Bary is thought to be on the run in Turkey having fled ISIS and Syria. His defection came as part of a flood of Western born ISIS recruits wanting to leaving the group.
5. His Possible Death Comes on an Already Bad Day for ISIS
His “death” came on the same day that a large contingent of Kurdish fighters announced that they had taken over a key ISIS supply route in Iraq. That move is part of the Kurds plan to retake the area of Sinjar, reports the New York Times.