In a 2009 interview with a U.K. rights group, “Jihadi John,” the ISIS henchman recently identified as educated, middle-class Londoner Mohammed Emwazi, denied being an extremist and denounced terrorism altogether.
It’s not completely certain that the voice belongs to Jihadi John, but the recording was released by a group that has worked with people disaffected by the continuing War on Terror. They claim the voice is indeed Emwazi’s, NBC News reported.
In the interview, Jihadi John recounts his interrogation by British spies, who Emwazi claims pushed him to extremism, according to Time.
“He started telling me what do you think of 9/11? I told him: ‘This is a wrong thing. What happened was wrong. What do you want me to say? If I had the opportunity for those lives to come back then I would make those lives come back.'”
In recalling his interrogation by intelligence agents to CAGE, Emwazi continued to voice his dislike for extremist acts, including the 2007 terror attacks in London.
“I said ‘Man, innocent people have died, man, what do you think, I think this is extremism. He started telling me ‘What do you think of 9/11?’ and I think I told him ‘This is a wrong thing … what happened was wrong.'”
Agents weren’t convinced, accusing Jihadi John of trying to join extremist forces in Somalia and threatening to keep watch on his activities.
Though news agencies can’t verify Mohammed Emwazi’s voice, the jihadi’s parents already have. According to NBC, Emwazi senior told authorities in Kuwait that he recognized his son’s voice in ISIS’s infamous beheading videos.
His mother’s realization that her son was Jihadi John, had joined ISIS, and become the perpetrator of numerous grisly beheadings was far more dramatic, according to the Telegraph. She knew when the video of journalist James Foley was released, screaming, “That is my son,” but never told authorities. For months after his first ISIS video, both of Jihadi John’s parents reporetedly knew of their son’s activities.
Though CAGE accuses British intelligence agencies of pushing Jihadi John to ISIS, British authorities insist Mohammed Emwazi’s interrogation “was really a consequence… not the cause of his radicalization,” and he was already deeply embedded in extremist circles,” NBC reported.
So how did Jihadi John get into the ISIS upper echelon? He has been linked to a gang accused of committing violent robberies in London, whose purpose was to help terrorists travel overseas. Then there’s his education. Jihadi John was a student at the University of Winchester, a breeding ground for radicalization. A fellow student, Maajid Nawaz, recounted his own education there for the New York Times. The college has apparently been a platform for extremist ideas for years, its Islamic Society controlled at times by a radical Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir.
“These speakers claim to preach Islam, but they peddle a highly politicized, often violent strain of my faith. It is easier than one might think for bright, capable people like Mr. Emwazi to fall for the myopic worldview of the preachers of hate.”
[Photo Courtesy YouTube screengrab]