Released Emails Show Slow Radicalization Of “Jihadi John”

The ISIS militant, identified as Mohammed Emwazi, wrote of his increasing frustration with security officials years before he became the infamous masked executioner.

Mohammed Emwazi, the London man named as the masked executioner who has beheaded multiple hostages in ISIS videos, wrote of feeling “oppressed” by security officials in newly released emails.

REUTERS/SITE Intel Group/Handout via Reuters

Emwazi, a 26-year-old Kuwaiti-born man raised in London, wrote emails over several years complaining of his “tyrannical” treatment by the British government to Cage, an advocacy group that campaigns against the ill-treatment of Muslims under anti-terror laws.

On Saturday, the group released what it said were its email communications with Emwazi between 2009 and 2012. Selections of the emails were reported by BuzzFeed News on Friday, after first being covered by Channel 4 News.

“They document his persistence in accessing due process through legal, political, diplomatic, and other channels over the entire period until our last contact with him in January 2012,” Cage said on its website.

Cage has faced accusations by some in the U.K. that it released the emails to paint the British authorities as villains who pushed Emwazi towards extremism.

Emwazi was first questioned by security services in 2010 after returning to the U.K. from what he said was a safari in Tanzania.

In an email dated June 3, 2010, Emwazi, using the name “Mohammed Al-Zuhary”, emailed Cage detailing how he had been stopped at London’s Heathrow airport the day before as he tried to travel to Kuwait:

One of [the security officials] got aggressive with me, he pushed me to the wall and started ‘gripsing’ onto the wall, I was just baffled I did not know why he had done that and after this long 6hour interview, fingerprinting and searching. When I asked for their names they said ‘We don’t give out our names’.

Emwazi later wrote that the officer had pushed him against the wall in a room without security cameras because he had tried to use his cell phone during the interview. He said the officer only relented when he realized Emwazi was having difficulty breathing.

Cage encouraged him to file formal complaints against the officer, which Emwazi said he did.

In a subsequent email detailing the same June 2, 2010, interrogation, Emwazi complained of one security officer’s treatment of the Qur’an:

One random officer wearing an Indian turban … reached out for the Holy Quran and put it on the floor & I asked him to put it onto the chair rather than on the floor. He started to get aggressive, changing his tone of voice. He said ‘I’ve put it onto the chair now, so just shutup’ and I replied ‘You shutup’. He stood up aggressively and came into me face, pushing me back onto the floor. At that point I told the other officers that I was not going to answer any-more questions until this aggressive and angry person that has hate for me for no reason, got out of the room. He later stood outside

When he tried to travel again to Kuwait on June 3, he was told that Kuwaiti officials were not permitted to grant him a visa. He said:

I had a job waiting for me and a marriage to get started. But know [sic] I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London. A person in-prisoned [sic] & controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace, & my country, Kuwait.

In a subsequent email dated 21 June, 2010, Emwazi wrote that “friends in Kuwait” had informed him his visa had been cancelled because of pressure from British “agents.”

A Cage representative responded:

This looks clear blackmail by the security services. They seem to be punishing you for refusing to co-operate. I would advise that you bring this to the attention of your MP and liase with a sympathetic journalist.

In ISIS videos, “Jihadi John” has been shown beheading a number of reporters, including James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Kenji Goto.

In an email dated Sept. 23, 2010, Emwazi wrote to Cage that he had learned of the “upsetting news regarding our sister Aafia Siddiqui.” “Lady al-Qaeda,” as Siddiqui has been dubbed, is serving an 86-year prison sentence in Texas after being convicted in 2010 of plotting to kill Americans.

“This should only keep us firmer towards fighting for freedom & justice!!!” he wrote of Siddiqui. “Please my dear brothers, keep up your work. So that you can say on the Day of Judgement ‘This is what I done for Aafia Saddiqui [sic].” The response from Cage has been blacked out.

On Nov. 30, 2010, Emwazi wrote that he was thankful for Cage’s assistance:

I also hope that both our efforts, put an end of the oppression that so often happens under the hands of those that believe they are above the law, taking advantage of the “‘Police uniform’, acting like ‘Robocop’, rather than civilized humans…. May Allah get rid of the oppressors i.e. security agents

On Jan. 13, 2011, Emwazi discussed his plans to meet with his local member of parliament to seek out a letter of support to say he was “no terrorist” and had no criminal record.

The emails continued for another year or so, as Emwazi continued to seek advice on ways to travel to Kuwait.

In the last email released by Cage, dated Jan. 13, 2014, representative Asim Qureshi wrote Emwazi more than two years after the group’s last apparent exchange with him.

“I was wondering if you could send me your number,” Qureshi wrote. “… It will be good to catch up and speak to you about a matter that has come up for me.”

There was no apparent response from Emwazi.

Just months later, in August, a video emerged of “Jihadi John” beheading James Foley in the desert.

Read the Cage emails here:

CAGE / Via

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