The Many Faces of Mohammed Emwazi

The more I look at photos of Mohammed Emwazi from his childhood and in Kuwait, the less he seems to resemble the black clad executioner in the beheading videos. Doesn't anyone have a photo of Emwazi before Syria that shows his very sloped shoulders? Aside from one eyelid being larger than the other, his shoulders are his most prominent feature. His stance is also somewhat unique, (He seems bow-legged in some videos.)

There are a lot of ISIS fighters who look like him when masked. Some fighter photos the media identifies as being Emwazi/Jihadi John are not him. There's this photo which is not Jihadi John, but a Dutch fighter named Soufiane Zerguit, who went by the name A Fighting Journalist (@fightingjmedia, account now closed.). It seems he posted the selfie as a joke, pretending to be Jihadi John, and the media fell for it. Soufiane was reported killed in Kobane in January. (Dutch prosecutors say they have no proof of his death and refuse to dismiss a terror case against him, wanting to prosecute him in absentia.) [More...]

A prominent journalist who covers Syria thinks this photo from a Vice News video on Nusra and ISIS fighters at al Atwah/Idlib in November, 2013 looks like Emwazi. It does, but when I watch the video, that guy is much stockier than Jihadi John, he doesn't have the shoulder slope and his forearms and hands are much thicker. Here's another angle showing the differences. There are also other fighters in the video who seem to resemble Jihadi John.

Given how many masked fighters resemble Jihadi John, and that he’s always wearing a mask in the Jihadi John poses, are people using his voice rather than his face to identify him? The hostages haven't mentioned seeing him unmasked. They are going by his masked appearance and his voice. CAGE never said it was certain the executioner was their client Emwazi. Could Emwazi’s father be right, there's no proof Jihadi John is his son? Probably not, since the WAPO reporters who outed him are very experienced and throrough, but the more I look at the photos of Jihadi John before Syria, the more doubts creep up.

We know ISIS plays around with its videos. When the Foley video came out, many experts thought Jihadi John didn’t do the actual killing, which is why it wasn’t shown on camera. (Remember the second bloody knife laying next to the body?) As to the Peter Kassig appearance at the end of the video in which the Syrian pilots are killed, I’ve read articles in which experts say there were two Jihadi Johns -- in a flash between scenes, you can see another masked fighter.

One thing I've noticed about that video I haven’t seen mentioned is that Jihadi John seems to be wearing a different pair of boots when killing the soldier and when standing over Peter Kassig’s body and head. It may just mean they were filmed on different days in different places, or he changed his boots after killing the Syrian pilot, but I still find it interesting.

Here’s the boot he was wearing when killing the pilot.

Here’s the boot he was wearing when standing over Kassig (I filled in Mr. Kassig’s head with background color so not to have to show it.

The first pair of boots have a tongue and no horizontal strap at the top. The second pair has a horizontal strap at the top.

He seems to be wearing different black shirts as well. One is neatly pressed with a well fit, very flat zipper. The other look bunchy around the zipper. The pocket on one shirt has a flap over the top, the other doesn’t.

ISIS is very good at manipulating things to make it appear you are seeing something you aren't: like the giant ISIS figures on the beach walking along the tiny Egyptian Coptic Christians and the red blood in the water.

It also seems to view fighters who speak English well as a particularly valuable asset. I wonder if Emwazi actually fights any more, as opposed to being in some administrative position. They don't want to lose him. Same for the English speaking Chilean guy in the Breaking Borders video. He was so telegenic and well spoken. I don't think he's dead, but I haven't seen him fighting since that video. He also may be too valuable to lose. It makes me wonder what their plans on for their third English speaking frontman -- Hostage John Cantlie. Are they saving him for something other than video reporting? Since ISIS views itself as a state, eventually it's going to want to be treated as one by other nations. Maybe John will be forced to be their negotiator. (The other option, that they are saving him for a future Jihadi John video in response to a Western act that really offends it, like killing a top leader or losing a huge swath of territory, is too bleak to think about.)

< Mohammed Enwazi's Bidoon Background | Selma and "Bloody Sunday" 50 Years Later >
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  • Display: Sort:
    Ultimately, (none / 0) (#1)
    by lentinel on Sat Mar 07, 2015 at 02:26:33 PM EST
    is it really important who this guy really is?

    Someone is giving the order to have a head chopped off, and someone else is doing the chopping.

    yes, because it could lead (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Mar 07, 2015 at 03:59:55 PM EST
    to identifying the other members of his group who guarded the hostages, tortured them, and executed people.

    I am confused (none / 0) (#3)
    by BarnBabe on Sun Mar 08, 2015 at 05:13:59 PM EST
    Yahoo/NY Posts reporting that he apologized to parents for causing them so much trouble, but no apology for the killings.  And the Father's lawyer filed law suits today on his Father's behalf but after that withdrew as the lawyer for his Father. Cited personal reasons.

    Maybe the reports wrong but if not, they both seem to point to the guilt of the son.

    No, the reports from the (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Mar 08, 2015 at 07:54:29 PM EST
    UK and U.S. media about apologies are unsubstantiated. The reports about the father's lawyer filing suits today and withdrawing are true, he held a press conference that was covered in Kuwait.

    The stories about his mother heard this and his father blasted his son as a terrorist are all hearsay. I suspect the people who spread them will be among those who are sued.

    Yesterday there were reports a member of the Kuwaiti Parliament demanded an apology from the father or else said he should leave the country. That may have something to do with all this, see my latest post here.