According to reports, the first images have been released of the British IS militant known as Jihadi John without his mask in Syria. Until now, the Islamic State extremist, real name Mohammed Emwazi, had been pictured with only his eyes showing in a number of beheading videos.
He spoke with an English accent as he murdered western captives. IS media recently confirmed he had been killed in a drone strike in November. The statement backed up US officials who said they were “99% sure we got him”.
The new photographs show Emwazi holding an assault rifle and standing next to an armoured vehicle. It is not known exactly where they were taken, but they were tweeted by Syrian activists in Raqqa, the de facto capital of IS in Syria.
They had been released by the militant organisation along with a tribute. The terror group said he was a soldier of Islamic State who had received widespread attention from western media and intelligence services.
It said he had travelled to London with his parents and grew up in the “crusader West” but felt from an early age he did not belong there and wanted to be around people who were true to their faith.
Emwazi, 27, was first seen, his face covered, in a video in August 2014 which showed the beheading of US journalist James Foley.
He went on to appear in other gruesome videos, including those showing the execution of British aid workers Alan Henning and David Haines, American journalist Steven Sotloff and US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig.
He was last seen in a video showing the execution of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto in January last year. Emwazi was born in Kuwait and moved to the UK with his family when was six.
He attended state schools, then studied computer science at the University of Westminster before leaving for Syria in 2013. He and three other IS militants with British accents were nicknamed “the Beatles” by some of their captives.