Reappearance of ‘Jihadi John’ raises questions, concerns about his identity

The masked Islamic State fighter, known as“Jihadi John,” and speaking with a British accent, reemerged in another hostage video posted Tuesday, threatening to kill two Japanese hostages if their government did not pay a massive ransom.

“You now have 72 hours to pressure your government in making a wise decision, by paying the $200 million to save the lives of your citizens,”the militant said. “Otherwise, this knife will become your nightmare.”

The ransom amount matches the humanitarian aid Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently pledged to send to countries affected by the terrorist organization’s violence.

In mid-November, there were rumors that he was injured or even killed in a U.S.-led airstrike, but the new video shows that he is alive and apparently well.

The FBI issued a $10 million reward for any information leading to his capture last year,Newsweek reported.

It appears that U.S. and British intelligence agencies have not pinpointed his whereabouts but are likely to know his identity.

In September, the FBI announced that the agency was fairly certain it had identified “Jihadi John” but would not release it.

“I believe that we have identified him. I’m not going to tell you who I believe it is,” James Comey, director of the bureau, said in a statement.

Raffaello Pantucci, a security expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London, told Newsweek that there is a possibility that revealing the militant’s identity could turn him into a “heroic figure, and the last thing they want to do is mythologize this guy — they have no interest in making him a bigger figure than he already is.”

Aki Peritz, a former CIA officer, thinks the officials might believe it would harm their efforts to apprehend him, CNN reported.

“They can put pressure on his family, put pressure on his friends,” Peritz told the network. “Maybe they have a line to him. Maybe they know who his cousins are who are going to Syria, who can identify him. However, if you publicly tell everybody who he is, his real identity, then maybe he’ll go to ground and he’ll disappear.”

Paul Cruickshank, CNN’s terrorism analyst, says that this latest video is intended to project strength and attract new recruits, aside from its obvious goal to raise money.

“It shows them resilient — that they’re able to film this video with these Japanese hostages outside in broad daylight somewhere, presumably in Syria,” he said.

One of his former hostages told the Guardian that the executioner is “intelligent, educated and a devout believer in radical Islamic teachings.”


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Eric Write head editor and chief at The Pluto Daily