Infamous Islamic Extremist and high ranking ISIS Mohammed Emwazi is believed, with a “high degree of certainty,” to have been killed in a military airstrike. The operation was carried out in joint with the British and U.S. governments, working hand in hand to find and neutralize Emwazi.
The British-born Emwazi, or “Jihadi John” as he was known to ISIS prisoners, was known for being the face of the gruesome propaganda videos distributed around the world by the terrorist group. He is responsible for eight on-screen beheadings of various ISIS hostages, each one posted on the internet for the world to see.
The Pentagon has confirmed that late Thursday night U.S. forces carried out an airstrike in Syria, targeting the terrorist following the reputation he earned himself from the videos he appeared in. US officials are “99% certain” that the airstrike was a success.
British PM David Cameron made a statement Friday confirming the attack, stating that his government had been working “glove in hand, round the clock” to track Emwazi down. Cameron, like the U.S., could not officially confirm the likely death of Emwazi. He described the drone strike as “an act of self defense,” one that has struck at the heart of the Islamic State. The Prime Minister went on to outline the threat Emwazi imposed on innocent people around the world, calling the attack “the right thing to do.” The U.S. added to the statement, saying that there is “a high degree of certainty that he has been killed.”
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn expressed his desire to see Emwazi face justice of a court of law rather than the target of an airstrike. While he admits that the terrorist has “been held accountable or his callous and brutal crimes,” Corbyn admits that it would have been better for that account to be held in court.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cool announced the details of the strike in a statement Thursday night:
“U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Raqqa, Syria, on 12 November 2015 targeting Mohamed Emwazi, also known as Jihadi John. Emwazi, a British citizen, participated in the videos showing the murders of U.S. journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, American aid worker Abdul-Rahman [Peter] Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and a number of other hostages. We are assessing the results of tonight’s operation and will provide additional information as and where appropriate.”
An unnamed U.S. official has been quoted by the Associated Press as saying that the drone that carried out the strike had targeted a vehicle that was believed to have been carrying Emwazi into Raqqa, a northern Syrian town, which has become the de facto capital of ISIS.
The airstrike has been confirmed by Activist groups in Raqqa, who reported explosions on the night of November 12. The U.S. military has released a statement saying that one of eight airstrikes made contact with an ISIS tactical unit.
The chief cabinet secretary in Tokyo, Yoshihide Suga added that Japan is among the governments leasing with Washington over the outcome of the strikes. Suga has said that Japan is in contact with the United States about the details regarding the results of the operation as the Pentagon continues to assess them.
Japan has increased interest in the attack on Emwazi following the beheading of two Japanese hostages, journalist Kenji Goto, and security consultant Haruna Yukawa. In January, a video message titled “A Message to the Government of Japan” was released by ISIS. In it, Goto and Yukawa were killed by a man believed to be Emwazi, having looked and sounded like him. Like the other beheading videos, positive identification was difficult due to Emwazi always hiding his face.
Following this video, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe publicly pledged $200m USD in non-military aid to countries fighting against ISIS. Following this, ISIS formally targeted Japanese citizens.
The families of Emwazi’s victims have been notified of the strike. Diane Foley, mother of American journalist James Foley found little solace in the death of her son’s killer as she spoke out against the airstrike, saying that a greater focus should instead be put on rescuing the hostages.
Emwazi was born in 1988 in Kuwait, coming to the United Kingdom in 1994 at the age of six. He was reported missing by his parents in August 2013, with police reporting that he had surfaced in Syria four months later.