Did Jihadi John, the ISIS fanatic who appears in all four videos showing beheaded American and British hostages, just show his unmasked face? Only U.S. and U.K. authorities, who say they have positively identified the militant, know for sure. But the ISIS fighter in a video rant released around the same time as the latest beheading video has told contacts that he witnessed the beheading of American journalist James Foley.
The ISIS militant in the below video may or may not be Jihadi John, but he has been named as Omar Hussain, the so-called “Supermarket Jihadi,” who earned his nickname because before he ran away from his home in High Wycombe, a large English town of 120,000 about 30 miles northwest of London, he worked as a security guard in a grocery store there.
In the video rant, Hussain refers to U.K. Prime Minister as a “despicable swine,” attempts to goad the United States into sending ground troops to Syria, and implores Muslims living in the West to “rise up” and commit terrorism in their own countries.
Hussain, 27, fled to Syria last December, creating a scandal in the U.K., because his extremist beliefs were already well-known to British authorities and in fact he was arrested trying to board a plane to Turkey in June 2013. Police raided the house where he lived with his mother and brothers at that time, as well.
But just six months later, he was somehow allowed to leave the country anyway, flying to France — and from there, he is believed to have traveled to Turkey and finally to Syria where he joined ISIS.
Schoolmates in his hometown described Hussain, who now uses the alias Abu Saeed Al-Baritani, as “weird” and “a social outcast,” who often berated girls about their supposedly immodest clothing, warning they “would be punished by God” if they didn’t shape up.
Nonetheless, according to a report in Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper, Hussain still has friends in High Wycombe, and after the video of Jihadi John beheading James Foley surfaced in August, Hussain called one of those friends and calmed to have been present when Foley was killed.
If the Mail report is accurate, it raises several questions. Did Hussain behead Foley himself and call his friend to boast — but think better of making a full confession to the friend, whose identity was quickly discovered by police?
Or is it possible that Hussain and Jihadi John are one and the same, but a third ISIS radical actually beheaded Foley while Hussain simply watched?
The Foley video, like each of the three beheading videos that have so far followed it, never actually shows Jihadi John beheading anyone. In each, “John” puts a knife to the hostage’s throat, then the video fades to black.