Emwazi has become the face of the terrorist organization since first appearing in a beheading video in August 2014
The masked ISIS executioner infamous for appearing in the terrorist organization’s beheading propaganda videos has finally been identified.
The militant known as “Jihadi John” is actually Mohammed Emwazi of London, the BBC and The Washington Post reported Thursday. A U.S. intelligence official confirmed the man’s identity to NBC News as well.
According to the Post, Emwazi is young Londoner who was born in Kuwait. His identity was already known to intelligence services, who chose not to share his name for “operational reasons,” the BBC reports.
Emwazi, a well-to-do Brit who grew up in West London, graduated from college with a degree in computer programming. It’s thought he traveled to Syria in 2012 and later joined the Islamic State.
“I have no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John,” said one of Emwazi’s close friends in an interview with the Post. “He was like a brother to me I am sure it is him.”
Emwazi first appeared in an ISIS beheading video last August, in which he took the life of American journalist James Foley.
Since then, he’s continued appearing in the group’s horrific execution videos, including those featuring the deaths of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines and British taxi driver Alan Henning.
In each video, he’s a striking presence, clad entirely in black, with a balaclava covering all but his eyes. To the world, he’s become the face of ISIS.
The people who knew him tell the Post that he was polite and “had a penchant for wearing stylish clothes.”
But his friends say his views turned radical after he was detained en route to a planned safari in Tanzania in 2009, the Post writes. Emwazi and the two friends he was traveling with were detained in Dar es Salaam and eventually deported. The reason for this remains unclear, but the incident and its resulting fallout angered him.
“He was upset and wanted to start a life elsewhere,” one of the friends told the paper. “He at some stage reached the point where he was really just trying to find another way to get out.”