The ISIS militant with a British accent was publicly identified today as Mohammed Emwazi, a 26-year-old from a London family who fled Britain after the government tried repeatedly to prevent him traveling abroad.
Born in Kuwait, Emwazi’s family moved to London when he was six, and he graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in computer science.
That’s where his background gets tricky. He tried to go on safari to Tanzania in 2009, and was detained on British government orders. MI5 approached him with the idea of being an informant for them. He refused.
He went to Kuwait later that year to visit family, and got a job there working for a computer company. After what was intended to be a brief return visit had his visa denied and was stuck in Britain. He then sought to teach English abroad but was again prevented from traveling.
Stuck in Britain, he complained of a “campaign of harassment” by MI5, who wanted to condition his travel abroad on him becoming their informant. Aid group CAGE, which was familiar with his situation at the time, called him an “extremely gentle” man who wanted to go back to Kuwait, where he had a fiancee.
A 2013 attempt to change his name then travel to Kuwait to teach English was again blocked by the British government, which appears to have been the last straw. He disappeared shortly thereafter, and a few months later his family was informed he’d gone to Syria.
The FBI and MI5 have apparently known he was Jihadi John for awhile, and the US is said to be scrambling to find out more about him, with an eye on putting him on a kill list.