The ISIS butcher who beheaded journalist James Foley in a grisly and appalling online video hid his face behind a black mask as he spoke to the camera in a London accent, and then committed his unspeakable crime. But British intelligence services may be close to pulling back that mask, sources told the English press Friday.
The intelligence sources did not confirm that any of the three men it is now most focused on hunting down is suspected of actually being the British ISIS fanatic known as "John," the psychopathic militant named by former Western hostages held by ISIS as the man who cut off James Foley's head with a knife.
They said only that the three men are sought for questioning because they may "know" John, who is believed to be a Londoner based on his "multicultural" English accent. But at the same time, they told the media outlets that they planned to closely analyze the vocal patterns and physical appearances and mannerisms of the three suspects to see if they match those displayed by "John."
Perhaps the chief suspect is a former British rapper named Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary (pictured above left), a native of the Maida Vale neighborhood of west London who lived in a $2 million home and whose father is suspected of being a right-hand man to Osama Bin Laden.
The elder Abdel Bary was extradited to the United States in 2011. He is also suspected of creating a secret Al Qaeda cell in London.
His son was an aspiring rapper who is said to speak in the same "multicultural London English" accent heard on the recordings of John. That accent, which emerged relatively recently among young Londoners, was parodied by comedian Sasha Baron Cohen in his "Ali G" character.
Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary is also reported to have a similar physical build and skin tone to that exhibited by the ISIS executioner "John."
Perhaps most incriminating, Abdel Bary tweeted a picture of himself earier this month wearing a black mask similar to the "John" mask — and holding a severed head. Abdel Bary's twitter account was quickly deleted after he posted the picture, which is believed to have been taken in the Syrian city of Raqqa, which ISIS has declared the capital of its so-called Islamic Caliphate.
Another suspect now being tracked down by British intelligence and law enforcement services is a 30-year-old former drug dealer named Aine Davis who converted to Islam while behind bars. Davis, of Hammersmith, London, who also departed the U.K. last year to fight with ISIS in Syria.
The third man targeted by the British agents is Rajul Islam, 21, younger brother of Shajul Islam, a doctor who was to stand trial for kidnapping a journalist last year. Shajul Islam's trail was cut short due to lack of evidence.
Rajul Islam is also believed to have joined ISIS in Syria.