LONDON (AFP) – A masked Islamic State militant apparently responsible for beheading Western hostages, was named on Thursday as Kuwaiti-born London computer programmer Mohammed Emwazi by experts and the media.
The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at London’s King’s College, a leading resource for studying foreign militants, said it believed the identity “to be accurate and correct”.
Cage, a civil rights group that was in contact with Emwazi for two years over his alleged harassment by British security services, said the man bore “striking similarities” to the hooded militant.
Cage’s research director Asim Qureshi told a Washington Post reporter that due to the hood “there was no way he could be 100 per cent certain,” the campaign group said in a statement.
The New York Times quoted a senior British security official saying that Emwazi had been identified by the government “some time ago” but the name had not been disclosed “for operational reasons”.
But London’s Metropolitan Police would not confirm a report that first appeared in the Washington Post, which identified the suspect as Emwazi, who grew up in west London after moving to Britain aged six.
“We are not going to confirm the identity of anyone at this stage,” Richard Walton, head of the police Counter Terrorism Command, said in a statement.
Contacted by AFP, the interior ministry could not immediately comment on the reports.
Emwazi, believed to be in his mid-20s, was identified to the Post by friends and others familiar with the case.
He is from a middle class family and earned a degree in computer programming before travelling to Syria around 2012, according to the report.