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IS confirms butcher Jihadi John is dead, hopes to lure in more violence-prone crazies

January 20, 19:53 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© SITE Intelligence Group via AP

MOSCOW, January 20. /TASS/. Islamic State warlords have recognized in public notorious IS butcher Mohammed Emwazi, more commonly known by the nickname Jihadi John, is dead, but in doing so they tried hard to use the affair for propaganda in an attempt to persuade more potential militants to join their ranks, polled experts have told TASS.

On Tuesday, the media resources of the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia as a terrorist organization) came up with belated confirmation Jihadi John had been killed back last November as a result of a strike by a US drone. For a long while he had been a horror symbol meant to intimidate Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army and also all foreigners — both journalists and members of charity missions — who dared visit the country. With terrifying regularity Islamic State ideologists placed on the worldwide web blood-curdling videos showing Jihadi John, wearing a black robe and hood, behead his victims with a knife. The butcher led a group who had slaughtered 21 Syrian soldiers taken prisoner. In all of the videos showing executions Jihadi John, his face invariably hiding behind a mask, can be heard talking English. US intelligence managed to identify him using voice recognition software and testimonies by former Islamic State hostages.

Jihadi John’s biography is stunning. Born to a wealthy Kuwaiti family, Mohammed Emwazi spent his younger days, starting from the age of six, in the United Kingdom. At the University of Westminster, a prestigious polytechnic institution of higher learning in the very center of London, he studied computer programming. His acquaintances who chanced to meet him in those years recall he liked good clothes, adored The Beatles and even chose John for his nickname in honor of John Lennon. At the same time he was sporting a beard and followed Islamic customs and traditions. Shortly after he left university, British secret services set eyes on him as a potential suspect in terrorist activities. In 2012 he went to Syria, where he joined an anti-government armed group. A while later he became an Islamic State militant.

The head of the European political studies department at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of the World Economy and International Relations, Nadezhda Arbatova, believes that Muslim youth poorly adjust themselves to European lifestyles. "The procedure of being granted British citizenship as such — and Jihadi John was a British subject — by no means blends migrants from Islamic countries into European culture. Take the string of terrorist attacks in Britain in 2005. All of them were committed by Her Majesty’s subjects — Pakistanis from well-to-do families."

"Young Muslims often don’t feel themselves as part of European society. They exist side by side with their fellow migrants within secluded communities and prefer to stew in their own juice as they grow up and mature. Revolutionary ideologies (radical Islam being one of these) push psychologically unstable young people towards committing acts of violence. The case of this particular thug, who got angry with the British authorities, is a good example," Arbatova told TASS.

The president of the Religion and Politics Institute, Alexander Ignatenko, believes that Islamic State chiefs made up their mind to acknowledge Jihadi John was dead, because to anyone with Islamic mentality a killed shahid is as hero and his example is worth following.

"The Islamic State’s propaganda magazine Dabiq, coming out in several languages, has published an article about Jihadi John presenting him as a deceased hero. The publication keeps quiet about whether he lost his life to a US drone strike or a disease. His death, real or fictitious, is described as an act that took him straight to heaven. Next to the article there is a picture of a European under the Islamic State flag, an automatic rifle in hand. The caption reads something like this: ‘I dream of becoming a shahid to meet Allah," Ignatenko told TASS.

He recalls that IS militants now vary by specialization. There are suicide bombers and there are ordinary militants fighting in the field. But any militant should be viewed as a potential butcher, because in accordance with the Sharia law the infidels are to be put to death by beheading with a sword.

"In the Internet one can see mass killings of people of other faiths, committed by amateur executioners, and not professionals, employed in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Even 10-12-year-olds, whom the Islamic State trains to be shahids, are known to participate in killing infidels by shooting them in the back of the head," Ignatenko said.

He believes that reports of Jihadi John’s death, regardless of whether they are true or false, are a well-orchestrated propaganda campaign by the Islamic State, capable of mobilizing many more likes of Jihadi John and persuading them to join the Islamic State.

TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors