Is ‘Jihadi John’ Really On The Run From Islamic State?

‘Jihadi John’, the notorious Islamic State (IS) executioner from Britain who featured in several beheading videos, is thought to have gone on the run from the Islamist terror group several weeks ago, reportedly trying to reach North Africa. The Express reports the British terrorist is said to have been spooked by his own publicity after being identified as the executioner of British, American and Japanese hostages.

Jihadi John, real name Mohammed Emwazi, has not been seen since late January when a video showing him beheading Japanese journalist Kenji Goto was releaded. He is believed to be living in fear of British and US special forces in Iraq and Syria. It is said that a priority of allied forces is to bring him to justice, dead or alive.

Emwazi is not only concerned with anti-IS forces, however, he is also believed to fear losing his anonymity in February diminished his propaganda value as an IS killer and allowed jealous fellow IS terrorists to plot against him. The Express reports a claim that IS would drop him “like a stone or worse if they feel he is no longer of any use to them… So it is possible he will end up suffering the same fate as his victims.”

The whereabouts of the Kuwaiti-born, London-educated computer science graduate is uncertain. Some say he could still be in Syria, hiding with a less well-known jihadist group to try to keep a low profile. Others say he may be in Libya for much the same reason.

The Mail reports an alternative view. Nick Kaderbhai, research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), appears sceptical regarding reports of Emwazi’s alleged departure from IS, warning: “This isn’t the first of these stories to emerge; in the last few months he has said to have fled to Syria, Turkey and Libya.”

He explained further it “does not make sense to think that they would ‘drop him like a stone’ – it’s not like he’s a captured Westerner who has lost propaganda value. If anything, the less he is featured, the more impact he will have.”

Kaderbhai also said poured cold water on claims Emwazi fears for his life, explaining that “doesn’t fit the profile of the committed salafi-jihadist. They tend to embrace their identity wholeheartedly and claim not to fear death.”

Kaderbhai offers a much less dramatic explanation of Emwazi’s absence from our screens, suggesting that for the time being IS simply has “nothing high profile to show off.”

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