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‘Jihadi John’: Haines widow wants militant caught alive


THE widow of a man killed by a masked Islamic State militant known as “Jihadi John” says she wants him caught alive.

Dragana Haines said the “last thing” she wanted for the man who had killed her husband, British aid worker David Haines, was an “honourable death”.

The militant, pictured in the videos of the beheadings of Western hostages, has been named as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born Briton from west London.

Mr Haines’ daughter said she wanted to see “a bullet between his eyes”.

Emwazi, who is in his mid-20s and was previously known to British security services, first appeared in a video last August, when he apparently killed the US journalist James Foley.

He was later thought to have been pictured in the videos of the beheadings of Mr Haines, US journalist Steven Sotloff, British taxi driver Alan Henning, and American aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known as Peter.

Mrs Haines told the BBC she wanted him to be caught alive and not have an “honourable death” by being killed in action.

She added: “I think he needs to be put to justice, but not in that way.”

However Mr Haines’ daughter, Bethany, told ITV News: “I think all the families will feel closure and relief once there’s a bullet between his eyes.”

There have been questions about how Emwazi was able to travel to Syria and how he may have been radicalised.

Emwazi graduated from the University of Westminster in 2009 and it has been suggested he may have come into contact with extremists while he was a student there.

Student Rights, a group tackling extremism on university campuses, told BBC News it had found a number of events at the university that featured extremist Islamist preachers, and large amounts of extremist material had been shared with students.

Rupert Sutton, the group’s director, said: “Given that he travelled so soon after graduating, it’s entirely possible he picked up the views that led him to travel whilst he was studying.”

A spokesman from the University of Westminster said it “condemned the promotion of radicalisation, terrorism and violence or threats against any member of our community”.

It said the Education Act placed two competing responsibilities on universities to promote free speech and a duty to protect students from harm, but it was working with the government’s Prevent strategy to tackle extremism.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner told Radio 4’s Today programme there were questions for the security services about how “someone on a terror watch list, somebody of real concern, was able to slip out of this country and turn up in Syria like that unhindered”.

While Chris Phillips, former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, said the case demonstrated the need for security services to have increased powers, including access to phone records, proposed in the so-called “snoopers’ charter”.

He said: “It’s clear also that TPIMs (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures) and control orders just don’t work. We need to have a way of dealing with people in this kind of situation.

“The numbers are growing and the police resources are not.”

Dr Afzal Ashraf, a counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency expert who advised the government on the Prevent strategy between 2009 and 2011, said people were more likely to be radicalised by groups they believed could be successful.

“One of the reasons we don’t have Nazis and right-wing extremists in great numbers doing what they do is because Nazism and right-wing extremism has been discredited.

“Not many people believe they are going to change the world into that format.

“The problem is that al-Qaeda, and now IS, has demonstrated a degree of success as far as these people are concerned and they actually believe there is a possibility of success.”

US and British counter-terrorism officials discovered the identity of “Jihadi John” as far back as last September. The FBI, Britain’s MI5 and other intelligence agencies used a combination of voice-recognition software, interviews with former hostages and on-the-ground research in London to build up a profile of the man now revealed to be Mohammed Emwazi.

They have always declined to reveal the name for “operational reasons”. Now that it’s out in the public domain, it’s emerged that Emwazi was well known to MI5 and that it even tried to recruit him as an informer, years before he went off to Syria to eventually join Islamic State.

The practice by intelligence agencies of approaching jihadist sympathisers to work for them is likely to continue. It’s believed both Britain and the US have informers inside the Islamic State “capital” of Raqqa. Yet this seems to have been little help in stopping the actions of Mohammed Emwazi, or bringing him to justice.

In each of the videos Emwazi appears in, the militant is dressed in a black robe with a black balaclava covering all but his eyes and top of his nose.

Speaking with a British accent, he taunted Western powers before holding his knife to the hostages’ necks, appearing to start cutting before the film stopped. The victims’ decapitated bodies were then shown.

Earlier this month, a video in which the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto appeared to be beheaded featured the militant.

Hostages released by IS said he was one of three British jihadists guarding Westerners abducted by the group in Syria. They were known collectively as “the Beatles”.

A spokesman for the family of Steven Sotloff said: “We want to sit in a courtroom, watch him sentenced and see him sent to a super-max prison.”

Mr Foley’s mother Diane told the Times that she forgave her son’s killer.

“It saddens me, [Emwazi’s] continued hatred,” she said. “He felt wronged, now we hate him – now that just prolongs the hatred. We need to end it.

“As a mum I forgive him. You know, the whole thing is tragic – an ongoing tragedy.”

Kasim Jameel, a friend of Mr Henning, told The Times he wanted Emwazi dead.

Mr Jameel, who led an aid convoy that was joined by Mr Henning, said: “He needs to be annihilated. I wouldn’t believe in an eye for an eye but he murdered my best friend and he should be eradicated.”

He added: “These people are inhumane dogs, they are worse than any other terrorist group and I don’t care how he’s killed, whether it’s by the security services or a US drone, it might finally bring some closure.”

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