‘Take the shot’: A deeper look into the 15 seconds it took to kill Jihadi John – National Post

Written by on 17/05/2019

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Identified by his gait and the angle of his beard, a drone pilot took 15 seconds to execute the fatal strike that would take down Jihadi John.

The ISIS fighter, who made headlines after he executed journalist James Foley, became one of the world’s most wanted men, a soon-to-be-released Channel 4 documentary reveals.

The new documentary, to be released Monday on Channel 4, shows for the first time the global coordination it took to kill the elusive Jihadi John, whose real name is Mohammed Emwazi.

With western intelligence maintaining eyes on his movements throughout Iraq, Emwazi would often shield himself by keeping women and children close to his body. As drones patrolled the skies, Emwazi made sure to travel in crowded areas — effectively preventing pilots from taking the critical shot.

From August 2014 to January 2015, Jihadi John mercilessly executed six people on camera and the videos were widely disseminated online.

Then after a year of searching, Emwazi’s poetic justice arrived on November 12, 2015.

“Because of the conditions — it was night ‚ we were using infrared,” said Col. Steve Warren in a Daily Mail account. “You can’t see his face but we could sort of see how he moved, the cut of his jib, so to speak. The angle of his beard, these things we could see.

“Eventually we were convinced that this is Jihadi John. And so the floor commander at the time orders, ‘Take the shot.’”

General Richard Barrons, former Commander Joint Forces Command, told the Mail. “We identified Emwazi very quickly after the execution videos he appeared in, but finding him was much harder because we did not have any people on the ground in Raqqa.”

U.K. intelligence was able to uncover his identity hours after the first execution video of Foley. However Emwazi, who had a background in computer science, used encryption programs, private networks and wiped clean every computer he sent messages with to evade authorities.

The trail went hot when Emwazi contacted his wife and children in Iraq, sending intelligence services on a year-long hunt.

Before joining the caliphate in Iraq, the documentary traces Jihadi John’s life back to Britain, where he arrived as a six-year-old from Kuwait around 1984.

He attended school and university before being radicalized in 2012 and leaving the U.K.

The documentary claims that Emwazi had a deep desire for vengeance against the west, while intelligence services wanted to eliminate him because he played a key role in ISIS propaganda.

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