The UK Sunday Express notes that masked British-sounding executioner “Jihadi John,” star of many a disgusting ISIS propaganda video, has not appeared in one of those head-chopping productions since the January murder of Japanese captive Kenji Goto.
According to a source inside the American Joint Terrorism Task Force, that’s because Jihadi John has gone into hiding after being identified as a 26-year-old from London named Mohammed Emwazi:
Speaking on condition of anonymity the insider, who recently spent time in the UK working alongside MI5 and Special Branch, said: “We think it is a tactical move by ISIS to keep Emwazi out of the limelight.
“His unmasking by the Press took away the mystery surrounding his ‘bogey man’ persona and though we have targeted him with conventional missiles we have had no confirmation of a successful strike.
“We have picked up communication intercepts to suggest Emwazi has been in Libya and remained there over a number of days.”
The revelation was picked up by intelligence officers monitoring so called “electronic terrorist chatter” among jihadis in the UK.
They believe Emwazi and other IS leaders are in contact with a terror cell based in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, the hometown of Britain’s youngest suicide bomber Talha Asmal, 17.
According to the Express, the cell in question began as an al-Qaeda affiliate, but threw in with the Islamic State instead after they became the hot new terrorist villains. Emwazi is said to have played a key role in that shift of allegiance.
Another interesting detail of Emwazi’s cell is that it reportedly has ties to a more legitimate Islamic movement called Tablighi Jamat, which the Express source said was instrumental in bringing Islamist operatives to the United Kingdom “under the pretense of preachers or clerics,” creating a “stepping stone to terrorism by many young Muslims.”
If Emwazi left Syria for Libya, it might not necessarily be an indication that he’s afraid and “on the run,” even if the lost of his bogeyman status makes him less useful for ISIS videos. There have been reports lately of the Islamic State shifting resources from Syria into Libya, suggesting that they believe they have the former situation more or less in hand, while viewing the latter as a growth opportunity. Emwazi’s experience at building radical terror cells, and the lingering aura of jihadi celebrity status from appearing in all those videos, might be useful to the Libyan branch of ISIS.