British and American authorities say they know the identity of the Islamic State (IS) hostage executioner “Jihadi John,” and are poised to reveal who he is within days, the Mirror reports.
Jihadi John, an Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL) militant, is believed to have beheaded two American journalists – James Foley and Steven Sotloff – and has threatened to kill David Haines, a British aid worker.
A US intelligence source told the Mirror that the identity of the executioners would most likely be revealed officially within the coming days “and it is only a matter of time before we bring him in.”
Authorities are now in a race against time to save the life of Haines, who the masked jihadi in the video said is next for execution.
Sources revealed to the Mirror that an elite FBI team flew into Britain last month. The FBI team is now closing in on 12 suspects in the UK, who are believed to have provided money, contacts, and helped Jihadi John travel to Syria. Among them are several suspects from the West Midlands who are already known to UK security services.
A US source told the Mirror: “It has been a co-ordinated effort to track down the support network around the British Islamic State executioner. Our inquiries have given us leads across the country.
“We are 99.9 percent certain now as to who ‘John’ is but investigators have had to tread softly in charting and approaching his wider network in the UK.”
Jihadi John’s details have not been made public while intelligence officers monitor the movements and electronic communications of those they believe have helped him.
Anti-terror police are set to arrest up to 12 British suspects, who are believed to be associates of the IS jihadist. Some of the suspects allegedly have connections to previous UK-based terror plots.
Working out of Scotland Yard, a number of the police officers attached to the FBI traveled to the West Midlands to monitor the movements and communications of the terror network, the Mirror reports.
The US source added: “This approach has been successful in helping to collate evidence and possibly pinpoint the target’s location in Syria. Familiar names of what can only be described as hardened extremists with a jihadi background have cropped up in this investigation.”
The executioner is one of four British jihadists known as the ‘Beatles’ holding hostages in Syria. Sources told the Mirror that anti-terror experts from the UK and US know the identity of three of these ‘Beatles’ and are tracking down the group.
Facial recognition techniques have been a key in identifying him, it was reported. Using only the man’s eyes – the only part of his face left uncovered in the IS beheading video – they have pieced together a picture of what they say lies underneath his mask.
There remains uncertainty over whether the jihadist in the videos is the same person who carried out the murders.
The Islamic State released a gruesome video last month showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley, followed by a video of the execution of fellow American hostage Steven Sotloff last week.
The British hostage, David Haines, 44, originally from Perth in Scotland, has a wife and a four-year-old daughter in Zagreb. He was kidnapped from the Atmeh refugee camp close to the Syrian border with Turkey in March 2013. Haines has been severely tortured and given electric shock “punishments” with Tasers. Acute gastric and other health problems have plagued him during his captivity.
According to The Telegraph, Haines’ health deteriorated so much due to torture and maltreatment, his kidnappers were forced to summon a doctor to treat him.
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