Jihadi John, the London-born ISIS terrorist who has brutally beheaded four American and British hostages over the last few months, is understood to have been injured by a coalition airstrike. The strike took place last week, and was the same raid that injured ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the Mail on Sunday has reported.
The American led airstrike targeted a high-level meeting of tribal leaders, who were pledging their allegiance to Al-Baghdadi in a makeshift underground bunker, under a house in the border town of Al Qaim, in Anbar Province, Western Iraq. Ten other attendees were killed by the bombing raid and around 40 injured.
Reports quickly emerged that the injured, including Al-Baghdadi, had been rushed to a nearby hospital, and that appeals for blood donations were broadcast over loudspeakers across the town. Now evidence is emerging that Jihadi John, known in the region by his nom-de-guerre Jalman al-Britani, was also injured in the strike and taken to the same hospital.
The Mail has spoken to an unnamed source with links to the Islamic State (IS) leadership. According to that source, a nurse working at the hospital identified Jihadi John as one of those treated as “the one who slaughtered the journalists”.
The source explained how the injured, including Al-Baghdadi and Jihadi John, were later moved from the General Hospital in Al Qaim to a captured Syrian army barracks in Raqqa. Medical supplies and staff from hospitals in Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zour were ordered to treat them there in a reinforced bunker.
The Foreign Office has released a statement saying that they are “aware of the reports”, but that they “cannot confirm these reports”. A spokesman also told the Mail: “We are aware of reports that this individual [Jihadi John] has been injured, and we are looking into them. We have a number of sources of information coming in.
“The incident occurred last weekend, and so we have received the reports in the last few days. We don’t have any representation inside Syria, and so it is difficult to confirm these reports.”
A US Central Command spokesman has said that they cannot reveal any details for security reasons.
It appears that Jihadi John simply happened to be present at the meeting, as opposed to being specifically targeted, as British SAS forces were dispatched to Syria on the 8th November in order to track down the terrorist while the strike occurred on November 7th.
Unlike the majority of Western Jihadists, John has risen to a senior level within the Islamic State. Most are used as foot soldiers or prison guards, as Jihadi John himself was before carrying out the beheadings. But he has now been made a member of a shura council for the ‘wilayat’, or province, of Al Furat, an area that crosses the Iraqi-Syrian border and includes the town of Al Qaim.
It is thought that Jihadi John, who is aged between 28 and 31 and speaks English, Arabic, and classical Arabic fluently, was attending the meeting in this capacity. Fellow council member and cleric Abu Quatayba was killed in the strikes.
In the confusion following the strikes Al-Baghdadi was first rumoured to have been killed. In order to quash the rumours, a 17 minute audio recording was released in which the leader urges followers to unleash “volcanoes of jihad”. Although it is not clear when the recordings were made, the speech makes references to a decision taken by President Obama on the 7th November to double the US troop deployment in Iraq, the Washington Post reported.
Hisham al-Hashemi, an Iraqi researcher and expert on the Islamic State told the Post “When he was reported injured, I said: ‘By the end of the week, we will either have a new speech [from Baghdadi] or a new caliph.’”