‘Jihadi John’ named as Queen’s Park graduate Mohammed Emwazi
- Credit: Archant
The notorious ISIS executioner dubbed ‘Jihadi John’ has been named as a University of Westminster graduate from Queen’s Park who grew up on the Mozart Estate.
US newspaper the Washington Post has unmasked the brutal killer as Mohammed Emwazi, a computer programming graduate who grew up in Queen’s Park.
The 27-year-old lived on the Mozart Estate and is believed to have travelled to Syria in 2012 and later joined ISIS.
Two uniformed police officers were keeping guard near the property today.
A neighbour said the Emwazi family had lived there for about 12 years and she had gone to school with Mohammed’s sisters.
The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he had a younger brother.
“I was shocked when I heard on the news,” she said. “They were a normal family, you wouldn’t describe them as extremists.
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“I’ve watched the videos to see if I could recognise him but you can’t tell.”
Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Labour group on Westminster Council, distanced the Mozart Estate from the atrocities carried out by the man known as Jihadi John.
“This is a total surprise to me, as far I’m aware the family is just an ordinary family living in the area,” he said.
“The atrocities it is alleged that he is responsible for are an absolute disgrace but it’s nothing to do with the family or the rest of the community in the Mozart Estate.
“I hope that the understandable press interest subsides over the coming days so that the community can get back to normal life.”
Westminster North MP Karen Buck said: “I would simply say that our first thoughts are with all of victims of ISIS terror.
“Obviously this man must be held accountable for his crimes, but it’s also very important that the local community continues in its strong tradition of good community relations.”
Westminster Council has declined to comment on reports that Emwazi is a former pupil of Quintin Kynaston school in Marlborough Road, St John’s Wood.
The University of Westminster confirmed Emwazi was a former computing student.
A spokeswoman said: “A Mohammed Emwazi left the university six years ago.
“If these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened by the news. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.
“We have students from 150 countries and their safety is of paramount concern.
“With other universities in London, we are working to implement the government’s Prevent strategy to tackle extremism. We are setting up a dedicated pastoral team to provide advice and support.
“In the meantime, we urge any students who are concerned to contact the Student Support and Well-being team.”
According to the Washington Post and the BBC, Emwazi has been identified by friends and others familiar with his case.
A statement from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King’s College London said: “We believe the identity and name published by the Washington Post and now in the public realm to be accurate and correct.”
The Huffington Post reports that police visited the family home this morning.
It is understood the family have declined all media requests for an interview on legal grounds.
The man known as Jihadi John rose to notoriety when he appeared in a series of shocking videos in which hostages, including British aid-worker Alan Henning, are brutally murdered.
The first video was posted online in August, in which he appeared to kill the American journalist James Foley.
Dressed all in black, with a balaclava covering all but his eyes and the ridge of his nose, he reappeared in videos of the beheadings of US journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines and American aid worker Peter Kassig, as well as footage of Mr Henning’s death.
And last month, the militant appeared in a video with the Japanese hostages Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto, shortly before they were killed.
A detailed Washington Post article claims Jihadi John is in fact Kuwaiti-born Emwazi, who travelled to Syria around 2012 before later joining ISIS, which has taken control of large swathes of the conflict-torn country, as well as territory in neighbouring Iraq.
The article claims Emwazi started to radicalise after a planned safari in Tanzania, following his graduation from the University of Westminster, was brought to an abrupt end when he was detained on arrival in Dar es Salaam and deported the following day.
It is claimed that Emwazi told friends he was flown to Amsterdam where an officer from MI5 accused him of trying to reach Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabab operates.
According to the article, in 2009 or 2010 Emwazi decided to move to Kuwait, where he told friends he had a job and marriage waiting for him - but was prevented from travelling there by UK counter-terrorism officials.
Scotland Yard has refused to confirm the reports revealing Emwazi’s identity.
Commander Richard Walton, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “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.”
Do you remember Emwazi from school or university?
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