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13 November 2015

US drone targets Islamic State militant Jihadi John in Syria

There is a "high degree of certainty" that a US air strike hit the British IS recruit.

By New Statesman

US forces have carried out an air strike in Syria targeting the British Islamic State militant known as Jihadi John. There is a “high degree of certainty” he was hit by the drone.

Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British IS recruit, is known for his appearance in videos of Western hostages being beheaded – murdering aid workers and journalists on camera.

The BBC reports a US official saying Emwazi had been “tracked carefully over a period of time”.

But the Pentagon stopped short of confirming Emwazi’s death. It issued this statement:

“US forces conducted an airstrike in Raqqa, Syria, on Nov. 12, 2015 targeting Mohamed Emwazi, also known as “Jihadi John.”

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“Emwazi, a British citizen, participated in the videos showing the murders of U.S. journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, U.S. aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and a number of other hostages.

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“We are assessing the results of tonight’s operation and will provide additional information as and where appropriate.” 

David Cameron has described the airstrike that is believed to have killed ‘Jihadi John’ as “an act of self-defence,” while admitting that he was not yet certain it had been successful. The Prime Minister said:

“Good morning. Last night, the United States carried out an air strike in Raqqa, Syria, targeting Mohammed Emwazi – the ISIL executioner known as Jihadi John.

We cannot yet be certain if the strike was successful.

But let me be clear.

I have always said that we would do whatever was necessary, whatever it took, to track down Emwazi and stop him taking the lives of others.

We have been working, with the United States, literally around the clock to track him down.

This was a combined effort. And the contribution of both our countries was essential.

Emwazi is a barbaric murderer.  He was shown in those sickening videos of the beheadings of British aid workers.

He posed an ongoing and serious threat to innocent civilians not only in Syria, but around the world, and in the United Kingdom too.

He was ISIL’s lead executioner, and let us never forget that he killed many, many, Muslims too.

And he was intent on murdering many more people.

So this was an act of self-defence. It was the right thing to do.

Today I want to thank the United States: the United Kingdom has no better friend or ally.

And I want to pay tribute to all those professionals in our own security and intelligence agencies and Armed Forces for the extraordinary work they do on behalf of our country.

On this, as so often, they’ve been working hand in glove with their American colleagues.

We are proud of them.

If this strike was successful, and we still await confirmation of that, it will be a strike at the heart of ISIL.

And it will demonstrate to those who would do Britain, our people and our allies harm: we have a long reach, we have unwavering determination and we never forget about our citizens.

The threat ISIL pose continues.

Britain and her allies will not rest until we have defeated this evil terrorist death cult, and the poisonous ideology on which it feeds.

Today though, my thoughts, and the thoughts of our country, are with the families of those who were so brutally murdered.

Japanese citizens Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley and aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig.

And of course our own citizens. Aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning.

Nothing will bring back David and Alan.

Their courage and selflessness stand in stark contrast to the empty callousness of their murderers.

 Their families and their friends should be proud of them, as we are.

 They were the best of British and they will be remembered long after the murderers of ISIL are forgotten.”

Jeremy Corbyn commented that it would have been “far better” if Jihadi John had been tried in court rather than killed:

“We await identification of the person targeted in last night’s US air attack in Syria. It appears Mohammed Emwazi has been held to account for his callous and brutal crimes.

“However, it would have been far better for us all if he had been held to account in a court of law.

“These events only underline the necessity of accelerating international efforts, under the auspices of the UN, to bring an end to the Syrian conflict as part of a comprehensive regional settlement.”