London (Alliance News) – Intelligence officers have identified the Islamic State fighter nicknamed Jihadi John, who has appeared taunting and killing several hostages in Islamic State videos, according to reports Thursday.
The BBC said it “understands he is Mohammed Emwazi, a British man believed to be from west London, who was known to British security services.”
Emwazi, a graduate in his mid-20s, had been questioned by British security services several times, complaining to a London-based rights group of alleged abuses by security agents, other reports said.
The Washington Post quoted a former close friend of Emwazi as saying he had “no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John.”
“He was like a brother to me … I am sure it is him,” the unidentified friend was quoted as saying.
The London-based rights group, CAGE, said Emwazi first contacted it in mid-2009, following his deportation with two friends from Tanzania, where he said he had planned to go on a safari.
Security agents accused him of planning to travel from Tanzania to Somalia to join the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab group.
Emwazi later complained that he was refused a visa for Kuwait, his country of his birth, after intervention by British security agents.
He said the security services also contacted his fiancee in Kuwait, causing her family to cancel wedding plans, and threatened him and attempted to recruit him to work for MI5.
Asim Qureshi, CAGE’s research director, said Emwazi appeared to be “kind, gentle and soft-spoken” during two and half years of contact with the rights group, which says it works to oppose arbitrary detention and torture and “empower communities impacted by the War on Terror.”
“He was such a beautiful young man,” Qureshi said, adding that Emwazi had tried in vain, through CAGE and a solicitor, to hold the security agents to account.
Emwazi’s family in Britain later told CAGE they believed he was in Syria, but they now have no information on his whereabouts, Qureshi said.
Qureshi said he had watched video of Jihadi John at the request of a Washington Post journalist who believed that he was Emwazi.
There were “striking similarities” between Emwazi and Jihadi John, Qureshi said, adding that he could not be 100% certain they were the same person because the Islamic State fighter was always shown hooded.
The government and police declined to comment on the reports identifying Emwazi.
“We are not going to confirm the identity of anyone at this stage… or give an update on the progress of this live counter-terrorism investigation,” the Metropolitan Police said.