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Terrorism : Jihadi John, ISIS member, said to be target of U.S. drone strike

Jihadi John, ISIS member, said to be target of U.S. drone strike.

A U.S. drone strike targeted a vehicle in Syria believed to be transporting 
the masked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant known as "Jihadi
John" on Thursday, according to American officials. Whether the strike killed
the British man who appears in several videos depicting the beheadings of
Western hostages was not known, officials said.


Mohammed Emwazi was the target of an airstrike in Raqqa, Pentagon press
secretary Peter Cook said in a statement. Officials were assessing the results
of the strike, he said.


A U.S. official told The Associated Press that a drone had targeted a vehicle
in which Emwazi was believed to be travelling. The official was not authorized
to speak publicly and requested anonymity.


Emwazi, believed to be in his mid-20s, has been described by a former hostage
as a bloodthirsty psychopath who enjoyed threatening Western hostages. Spanish
journalist Javier Espinosa, who had been held in Syria for more than six months
after his abduction in September 2013, said Emwazi would explain precisely how
the militants would carry out a beheading.


Those being held by three British-sounding captors nicknamed them "the
Beatles" with Jihadi John a reference to Beatles member John Lennon, Espinosa
said in recalling his months as one of more than 20 hostages.


Among those beheaded by ISIS militants in videos posted online since August
2014 were U.S. journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, U.S. aid worker
Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, and
Japanese journalist Kenji Goto.


In the videos, a tall masked figure clad in black and speaking in a British
accent typically began one of the gruesome videos with a political rant and a
kneeling hostage before him, then ended it holding an oversize knife in his hand
with the headless victim lying before him in the sand.


Emwazi was identified as Jihadi John last February, although a lawyer who
once represented Emwazi's father told reporters that there was no evidence
supporting the accusation. Experts and others later confirmed the
identification.


Emwazi was born in Kuwait and spent part of his childhood in the poor Taima
area of Jahra before moving to Britain while still a boy, according to news
reports quoting Syrian activists who knew the family. He attended state schools
in London, then studied computer science at the University of Westminster before
leaving for Syria in 2013. The woman who had been the principal at London's
Quintin Kynaston Academy told the BBC earlier this year that Emwazi had been
quiet and "reasonably hard-working."


Officials said Britain's intelligence community had Emwazi on its list of
potential terror suspects for years but was unable to prevent him from
travelling to Syria. He had been known to the nation's intelligence services
since at least 2009, when he was connected with investigations into terrorism in
Somalia.


The beheading of Foley, 40, of Rochester, New Hampshire, was deemed by ISIS
to be its response to U.S. airstrikes. The release of the video, on Aug. 19,
2014, horrified and outraged the civilized world but was followed the next month
by videos showing the beheadings of Sotloff and Haines and, in October, of
Henning. 
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