He's perhaps the most recognizable face of ISIS, even though all we've seen are his eyes. Until now, the man known as "Jihadi John" was just the embodiment of evil, seen and heart in ISIS' horrific execution videos.
Now we know his name: Mohammed Emwazi of London.
Recently released emails cast light on the hitherto unrevealed life of the 26-year-old, Kuwaiti born man, dubbed "Jihadi John" by the media. These emails, revealed by CAGE, an advocacy group campaigning against the ill-treatment of Muslims, detail his correspondence with the group between 2009 and 2012.
Emwazi, under the pseudonym Mohammad al-Zuhayry, complains of the "tyrannical" treatment by the British government that he was subjected to. Emwazi wrote of various instances where he was stopped at Heathrow for questioning. In an email dated June 3, 2010, he says,
“One of [the security officials] got aggressive with me, he pushed me to the wall and started ‘gripsing’ onto the wall, I was just baffled I did not know why he had done that and after this long 6hour interview, fingerprinting and searching. When I asked for their names they said ‘We don’t give out our names.’”
In another email talking about the same encounter, he wrote how an officer pushed him against the wall in a room devoid of security cameras, and only released Emwazi when he started to have difficulty breathing. He also accuses the officers of mistreating the Quran, the holy book of Muslims.
“One random officer wearing an Indian turban… reached out for the Holy Quran and put it on the floor & I asked him to put it onto the chair rather than on the floor. He started to get aggressive, changing his tone of voice. He said ‘I’ve put it onto the chair now, so just shutup’ and I replied ‘You shutup’. He stood up aggressively and came into me face, pushing me back onto the floor. At that point I told the other officers that I was not going to answer any-more questions until this aggressive and angry person that has hate for me for no reason, got out of the room. He later stood outside”
The email exchanges depict Emwazi’s growing disenchantment with the law-enforcement agency; he writes on Nov. 30, 2010:
“I also hope that both our efforts, put an end of the oppression that so often happens under the hands of those that believe they are above the law, taking advantage of the “‘Police uniform’, acting like ‘Robocop’, rather than civilized humans…. May Allah get rid of the oppressors i.e. security agents.”
The CAGE representative urges Emwazi to lodge complaints against the officers, which he claims he did.
The last correspondence occurs on Jan. 13, 2014. A CAGE representative writes to Emwazi:
“I was wondering if you could send me your number …It will be good to catch up and speak to you about a matter that has come up for me.”
There is no response. Months later, as an ISIS video emerges, Emwazi is shown beheading James Foley in the desert.
CAGE has since come under fire for painting the UK government as a villain that drove Emwazi to militancy.