US spy planes are flying over South London in a bid to track down ‘Jihadi John’ via his associates still in the area. The planes are being flown by British pilots, are carrying FBI agents, and are equipped with state of the art spying technology, the Mail on Sunday has reported.
Jihadi John is the man responsible for beheaded American journalists James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines on camera over the last few weeks. Freed hostages have told how he and two associates were nicknamed after members of The Beatles.
At the time of Foley’s murder, there was much speculation over whether John hailed from south London, as his accent as recorded on the video suggested. It is understood that his identity has now been confirmed, and that he comes from a south London borough about 10 miles south of central London.
The FBI hope to pinpoint his current whereabouts by using technology so accurate that it can detect the heat coming off a keyboard as a key is pressed. Other equipment is being used to intercept and monitor phone calls and computerised communications. An FBI source told the Sunday Express: “Electronic footprints might help us pinpoint the location of the British IS executioner because we believe there are associates of his in the UK who are directly communicating with him. This is not the first time such surveillance techniques have been used in the UK but now the equipment we use is much more advanced.”
A team comprising of more than a dozen American investigators from an FBI Joint Terrorism Taskforce working alongside anti-terrorism officers from the Metropolitan Police Force and MI5 are involved in the UK based operation. It is believed that they have already interviewed Jihadi John’s family members.
It is understood that the suspect is already known to the security forces and had been before he went to Syria, but that he was previously regarded as a “low-level player.” The suspect is believed to know some of the jihadis convicted in the liquid bomb plot, which aimed to explode ten planes over the Atlantic, en-route from the UK to America in 2006.
The authorities want to capture John and his associates before two more men, journalist John Cantie and taxi driver and aid volunteer Alan Henning, who have also appeared in films made by the terrorists, are themselves beheaded.
The US Senate has offered a £6million ($9.75m) to anyone who can provide information that leads to Jihadi John’s capture.
In connected events, authorities in Rome are trying to track down Federico Motka, an Italian hostage held by the jihadists for 14 months. He was released four months ago after the Italian government paid a reported ransom of €6million ($7.7m), and is now wanted for questioning on any information he may have that could lead authorities to locate the jihadists. Both Britain and America have refused to pay ransom for the hostages still being held.