US officials revealed today that a Pentagon drone strike was carried out near the ISIS capital city of Raqqa, aiming to assassinate Mohammed Emwazi, the notorious British ISIS fighter who has been known colloquially as “Jihadi John.”
Officials say it is still too soon to tell if Emwazi was actually hit in the strike, or indeed anything about the result of the attack. Jihadi John appeared in numerous videos showing the killings of Western hostages, and has been a sought target ever since.
He’s not just a target for the US-led coalition either. Last month Russian officials indicated that Emwazi was considered their “number 1 target” for strikes against ISIS, even ahead of caliphate leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Jihadi John’s high profile in media reporting on ISIS, despite his actual position in the group being unclear, would make killing him a high profile victory for whichever faction manages to hit him.
Whether Russia’s own interest in getting Emwazi has led the US to launch more hasty strikes against his potential location is unclear, though the two sides are almost certainly competing over who can kill him first.