Nick Name: John the Beatle
Birthday: August 17, 1988
Died At Age: 27
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Muhammad Jassim Abdulkarim Olayan al-Dhafiri
Born Country: Kuwait
Born in: Al Jahra, Kuwait
Famous as: Murderer
father: Jasem Emwazi
mother: Ghaneya Emwazi
siblings: Asma Emwazi, Asra Emwazi, Hana Emwazi, Omar Emwazi, Shayma Emwazi
Died on: November 12, 2015
place of death: Ar Raqqah, Syria
education: University of Westminster Law school (2006–2009), Harris Academy St John's Wood
Jihadi John was a British–Arab terrorist belonging to the group ‘Islamic State’ (also known as ‘ISIS,’ or ‘ISIL’). He was believed to be involved in several beheading videos released by the ‘ISIL.’ He was born in Kuwait and was the eldest of the five children in the family. His family moved to London when he was 6. He was thus raised there. He grew up as a normal young teenager who had many friends, was good in academics, and had embraced the Western culture. However, there is sufficient evidence to safely say that he gradually became more religious as he grew up. He graduated from the ‘University of Westminster’ and moved to Kuwait to work in an IT company. Following his graduation, he planned a trip to Tanzania, but due to his Islamic identity, he was detained, questioned, and sent back. In Holland and the U.K., he was questioned multiple times about his assumed links with various terrorist groups. John somehow made his way to Syria and joined the ‘ISIL.’ He was then seen wearing a mask in many videos featuring the beheadings of Western journalists and aid workers. He was killed in a U.S. drone strike in November 2015.
Childhood & Early Life
Jihadi John was born Muhammad Jassim Abdulkarim Olayan al-Dhafiri, on August 17, 1988, in Kuwait, to Ghaneyah and Jassem Emwazi. His name was later shortened to “Mohammed Emwazi.” He was the eldest of the five children in the family. They lived in a town named Al Jahra, located a few kilometers away from Kuwait City, Kuwait. His family was of Iraqi origin. In 1994, the family moved to London in search of a better life and to escape the aftermath of the Gulf War. Back then, John was 6 years old.
When they arrived in the U.K., they were a family of four: the parents, John, and his younger sister, Asra. He led a normal childhood in West London. Aspiring to make a career in the IT industry, John attended local schools and excelled in studies. His father owned a taxi company, and the family led a fairly good life. They kept moving from one flat to another in the Maida Vale area, a posh locality of London.
Their neighbors later said that they had not found anything suspicious about the family. He was a hardworking young student, who was humble, loved football, and talked to everyone, from the Brits to Indians and Pakistanis. He did not show any sign of religious fundamentalism as a teenager.
Following his high-school graduation, Jihadi John joined the ‘University of Westminster’ in 2006. He graduated with good grades. At the university, he was described as a polite young man who was Westernized in his attitude. He occasionally attended a mosque in Greenwich.
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Career & Move toward Radical Islamic Groups
In 2009, after graduating college, Jihadi John planned a trip to Tanzania with two of his close friends. However, the three of them were never allowed to leave the airport. They were eventually taken to a nearby police station. The Tanzanian authorities had received orders to keep a close eye on them and question them. They were not allowed to leave and were supposed to be sent back to Europe.
They were taken to the ‘Schipol Airport’ in Holland, where they were questioned by the British intelligence agencies, as they were suspected of being closely associated with a terrorist group. Jihadi John denied his allegiance with any such group and was later released and taken back to the U.K.
John later came to know that his family had also been questioned by the authorities and this affected him. He was in a bad mental state. Thus, his family advised him to spend some time in their native land, Kuwait. In 2009, he moved back to Kuwait to live with his fiancée’s family for a while. Soon, he joined an IT company in Kuwait and worked there for close to 8 months.
His boss in the company later said that John was one of the best salesmen he ever had. John was only 21 years old and had a bright future ahead of him. However, the mistreatment he and his family had received back in London had scarred him.
In 2010, he went back to London to meet his family for a few days but was again detained at the airport and questioned for a long time. He was then allowed to live with his family in London for 8 days. He was, however, detained again by the British intelligence agencies and questioned for a long time. This time around, he showed some signs of radicalization and was thus put on a terrorist watch list and not allowed to leave the U.K.
Official documents claimed that in 2012, John was part of a group of young extremists called ‘The London Boys.’ During this time, he got in touch with many people who were later confirmed to be involved in terrorist activities.
He changed his name and tried to move out of the U.K. His father was aware of the mistreatment that his son had been subjected to and asked him to move to Kuwait to start a new life. It was a failed attempt, and he was once again not allowed to leave the country. However, in early 2013, he disappeared. It was later discovered that he had made a successful passage into Syria.
He joined the ‘Islamic State,’ also known as the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL), or the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ (ISIS). The group of terrorists he belonged to were British and spoke good English. He was thus nicknamed “John,” after John Lennon, a member of the band ‘The Beatles.’ Since his group had other terrorists who spoke in a British accent, the group was nicknamed “The Beatles.”
In 2014, a British conservative magazine named him “Jihadi John” after an article written on him became famous. The article, titled ‘Jihadi John- A Very British Export,’ became quite popular.
Starting in August 2014, the ‘Islamic State’ released a series of videos showing Western journalists being beheaded on camera. The first video that surfaced was that of journalist James Foley. Following this, several other videos surfaced, featuring the beheadings of journalists and workers such as Alan Henning, David Haines, Steven Sotloff, and Peter Kassig. Jihadi John also performed some of the beheadings himself and appeared in the videos wearing a mask.
The videos somehow avoided showing gory details. However, that changed with a video of the beheadings of a few Syrian soldiers, in which Jihadi John, too, was seen beheading a soldier. This video had gory details and showed the heads being decapitated on camera.
An investigation later revealed that the videos had been produced and distributed by the ‘Al Hayat Media Center.’ However, many experts claimed that the videos might have been doctored and that the murders were performed off camera. The location was traced to be the hills in the city of Raqqa in Syria.
Although Jihadi John always wore a mask in the videos, his eyes were visible. Several voice experts claimed that his accent was typical of South London. Later, in 2015, media reports claimed that his mother had accepted that the videos featured her son Mohammed’s voice. However, his father denied that Mohammed was “Jihadi John.”
Later, United States president Barack Obama confirmed that the hunt for Jihadi John was on. British prime minister David Cameron confirmed the same. John’s family was extremely angry with him. His father, Jassem, did not believe that his son was a terrorist. One of John’s cousins said that his death would bring peace and happiness to the family.
Jihadi John was killed in a United States drone attack in Raqqa, Syria, on November 12, 2015. Senior U.S. military officers confirmed that John had been killed. The ‘ISIL’ later confirmed that John had passed away and released an obituary in the ‘ISIL’ magazine ‘Dabiq.’
In 2017, a video was released by ‘The Telegraph,’ showing John without a mask and chatting casually with other ‘ISIL’ members.