Photo Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk – Neighbour is “shocked” about the alleged identification.
Identity of the militant seen in a series of gruesome Isis videos is revealed as 26-year-old who friends claim was radicalised after a trip to Tanzania
Mohammed Emwazi, the man named as the Islamic terrorist Jihadhi John, started on a path to radicalisation after being detained by police on a trip to Tanzania, it has been claimed.
Along with two friends Mr Emwazi was held overnight after landing in the country in 2009, ostensibly for a safari trip.
The episode is said to have put him on the radar of British security services, with an MI5 officer questioning him about his movements when he flew to Amsterdam from Dar es Salaam.
The following year, after returning to Britain, he told Cage, a controversial Islamic rights group, that he felt “like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London”, being “controlled by security service men”, the Washington Post reported.
Now Cage has claimed Mr Emwazi, 26, is one of a series of men who “became disenfranchised and turned to violence” as a result of a “culture of abuse” by Britain’s security services and western interventions in majority Muslim countries.
Mr Emwazi was born in Kuwait in 1988, from where his family are believed to have moved to west London in the early 1990s.
He went on to study computer programming at the University of Westminster, from which he graduated in 2009.
The university has faced questions about the links between its student union and extremists. In 2011 a student with links to the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which has since been banned, was elected as president of the union.
After Mr Emwazi was named as Jihadhi John on Thursday, a spokesman from the University of Westminster said: “A Mohammed Emwazi left the University six years ago. If these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened by the news.”
The university said it was “working to implement the Government’s Prevent strategy to tackle extremism”, adding that it was setting up a pastoral team “to provide advice and support” for students.
After his graduation Mr Emwazi travelled to Tanzania for a week-long safari, landing in Dar es Salaam in August 2009.
He was travelling with Abu Talib, another British man from west London who was also in his mid twenties at the time, and a German convert to Islam named Omar.
The men alleged that they were denied entry to the country, detained, and held in a cell for around 24 hours.
It is unclear whether the reason for their detention was made clear to the trio.
However Mr Emwazi later claimed that they were flown to Schipol airport in Amsterdam, where an MI5 officer accused him of attempting to travel to Somalia, where the jihadist group al-Shabaab controls parts of the country.
Mr Emwazi denied the accusations, insisting that he was going to Tanzania for a safari. He claimed that MI5 attempted to recruit him.
However, one former hostage told the Washington Post that Jihadhi John had made his captives watch videos about al-Shabaab, saying he was obsessed with Somalia.
On his return to London in 2009 he met Asim Qureshi, research director at Cage.
Mr Quereshi said there was an “extremely strong resemblance” between Mr Emwazi, the man named by the Washington Post as Jihadhi John, and the masked jihadist who has appeared in the beheadings of a series of hostages.
He added of the Tanzania episode: “Mohammed was quite incensed by his treatment, that he had been very unfairly treated.”
Shortly after returning to Britain Mr Emwazi decided to move back to Kuwait, according to one friend doing so because “he was upset and wanted to start a life elsewhere”.
In Kuwait he started work at a computer company, according to his email correspondence with Mr Quereshi.
He made two subsequent trips to London. On the second he was hoping to finalise plans for his wedding to a woman in Kuwait.
In an email to Mr Qureshi in June 2010 he said: “I had a job waiting for me and marriage to get started.”
But he added: “I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London. A person imprisoned & controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace & country, Kuwait.”
Almost four months later, Aafia Siddiqui, an al-Qaeda operative, was convicted in New Year for the attempted murder of US personnel in Afghanistan.
Mr Emwazi was sympathetic, saying he had “heard the upsetting news regarding our sister. . . . This should only keep us firmer towards fighting for freedom and justice!!!”
Cage said its last contact with Mr Emwazi was an email he sent to Mr Qureshi in January 2012 when he apppeared like “a young man who was ready to exhaust every single kind of avenue within the machinery of the state to bring a change for his personal situation.”
He believed “actions were taken to criminalise him and he had no way to do something against these actions”, according to Mr Qureshi.
By July 2013 Mr Emwazi was in Syria, where, according to a former captive, he helped to guard hostages at a prison in Idlib. It was from there that a series of gruesome videos were to be released by Isil, showing the masked man who came to be known as Jihadhi John.
According to Cage, police visited his family home to say they had information that Mr Emwazi had travelled to the country. His family said they thought he had been assisting refugees in Turkey.