The beheading of James Foley, the U.S. photojournalist apparently killed by ISIS militants whose murder was depicted in a grisly and shocking online video, was carried out by a tight group of British militants who were responsible for guarding hostages in Syria, and whose nationality earned them the nickname “The Beatles,” among their captives.
The new information about the identity of the 40-year-old Foley’s killers was reported Wednesday by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, whose reporters interviewed sources inside Syria, as well as a former hostage once held by the British Islamic radicals.
The masked executioner who actually carried out the beheading of James Foley in the video is a native of London who goes by the name “John,” and is believed by authorities to have been the ISIS point man in ransom negotiations for 11 hostages, including two Spanish journalists, who were handed over by ISIS earlier this year.
The militant known as John communicated with families of some of the hostages over the internet. According to a former hostage interviewed by The Guardian, John is “intelligent, educated and a devout believer in radical Islamic teachings.”
Linguist Dr Claire Hardaker analyzed audio of John’s voice from the James Foley beheading video, and said Wednesday that she is nearly certain the man hails from London.
“From what I can judge we seem to have definitely southern vowels in there, we’ve got some interesting pronunciations — he says ‘Muslims’ in quite an interesting way. The way that you say it you kind of have a Z sound, but when he’s doing it he’s doing a ‘muss’, an unvoiced S so there’s something interesting going on there,” Hardaker explained. “I think we are definitely looking at a British accent from the south — and probably from London.”
While some doubts have been raised about the authenticity of the brutal video — in which the man identified as “John” also produces another American hostage and threatens to kill him as well — United States intelligence analysts have reportedly concluded that it is the real thing.
Intelligence experts say that about 500 British citizens have left their homes to fight on Syria and in Iraq, and are now members of the so-called Islamic State organization, or ISIS.
According to The Guardian, the involvement in the manhunt of London’s Metropolitan Police Force, better known as Scotland Yard, may indicate that the militant responsible for the beheading of James Fley is already known to British police. British and U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are now waging a full-scale manhunt for “John” and any of his accomplices in the horrific murder.