Former MI6 chief Sir John Sawers today angrily condemned speculation that Mohammed Emwazi, identified this week as “Jihadi John,” had been at all radicalized by his repeated contact with MI5.
“The idea that somehow being spoken to by a member of MI5 is a radicalizing act, I think this is very false and very transparent,” Sawers insisted. Emwazi had complained about a “campaign of harassment” by MI5 before he finally fled the country.
Emwazi had gone to Kuwait to visit family in 2009, and according to reports got a good job there and met a fiancee. When he returned to Britain for a brief family visit, the British government refused to let him leave again.
Emwazi floated around at a few jobs in Britain over the next few years, trying to get a job teaching English abroad as a way to get back to Kuwait and his relatives. He even changed his name to try to get around MI5’s efforts to block his travel, but was stopped again.
MI5 began trying to recruit Emwazi back in 2009, and continued doing so over the next few years. After his last attempt to leave Britain, in 2013, ended in failure, Emwazi disappeared, and his family was informed a few months later he’d gone to Syria.
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