British spies say they know exactly who is behind the mask worn by “Jihadi John,” the ISIS militant who appears the three videos released by the fanatical Islamic group, depicting the beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker. But Britain’s MI5 security service says it may not make the identity of Jihadi John public as long as ISIS holds other Western hostages.
The man named by the media in August as the prime suspect, 24-year-old London rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, may not be Jihadi John after all, reports have indicated. Earlier this month, investigators were said to have scratched Abdel-Bary off their list as they came to their definitive identification of the English-speaking, London-accented militant who appears to carry out the gruesome, videotaped beheadings.
Authorities now believe that after the beheading executions of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines, ISIS may still be holding 24 western hostages, including more American and British citizens — most of them journalists or aid workers. Some of the hostages may also be Westerners who left their home countries to join ISIS, but who became disillusioned and attempted to leave the Jihadi paramilitary force, only to be taken captive by their former comrades.
But whoever Jihadi John really is, he is being called a “dead man walking” as both U.S. and British investigators intensify their hunt for the terrorist described as the world’s most wanted man, and U.S. drone aircraft equipped with ultra-high-tech surveillance equipment are searching Syria for Jihadi John and other key ISIS militants.
Both American and British leaders have vowed to bring Jihadi John to justice. But the knife-wielding ISIS executioner may never see the inside of a prison or courtroom. U.S. President Barack Obama is reportedly standing by to greenlight a U.S. airstrike to kill the militant as soon as he has been located.
But the U.S. and Britain have not given up on attempting to locate and free the remaining hostages. Intelligence services believe the hostages are now being held in underground tunnels beneath the streets of Raqqa, the Syrian city that has become headquarters to the so-called Islamic State group.
Earlier in September, the FBI and British security services said that they had identified a number of militants within Great Britain, who have acted as a support network for Jihadi John and that the arrest of those deep-cover terrorists could come at any time.
But now sources say that the investigators have held off on busting those Jihadi John accomplices until the other hostages can be located and freed.