“Jihadi John” is the name being used to identify the man who beheaded American journalist James Foley. Although his specific identity remains unknown, the ISIS Militant is thought to be a former resident of London.
Several British news organizations have reported that Jihadi John is the ringleader of a small, but brutal, group of formerly British jihadists. According to reports, John and his cohorts were often referred to as “The Beatles,” due to their nationality and accents. The three militants eventually assumed the nicknames John, Paul, and Ringo.
As reported by The Guardian, a former hostage described John as “intelligent… educated… a devout believer in radical Islamic teachings.” Although he refused to reveal his name, the man said he was held captive for one year prior to his release.
Journalist Didier Francois, who was held for a period of eight months, said he and the other hostages suffered tremendously while being held by the militants:
“What we most suffered from during the first part of our imprisonment was lack of food. The cold, too — we had no hot water… I kept on the clothes in which I had been captured from the first six months. We had so few shoes… that we were sharing them.”
“One of the last times I saw him before leaving, this group – which has a taste for the macabre – made him stand in a crucifix pose against the wall… Being an American he was probably more targeted… He would be beaten a bit more I think that they had simply decided to execute him. Period.”
The video of James Foley’s execution also provided details about Jihadi John’s background. After reviewing the footage, several linguistics experts concluded the executioner was likely “from the south, and probably from London, Kent, or Essex.”
As all three men appear to be British, Scotland Yard has joined the investigation. Although it may seem unusual that the ISIS militants are of British origin, Britain’s security services confirmed it is not uncommon.
An estimated 500 Britons left their homes to fight in Syria and Iraq. Counter-terrorism experts suspect the men were eventually recruited by ISIS militants.
Dr. Afzal Ashraf, of the Royal United Services Institute, suggests the men, including Jihadi John, join and form extremist groups as “a way of hitting back at what they perceive to be the U.S. bullying and domination of the Muslim world.”
[Image via The New York Post]