Jihadi John’s apparent death was more symbolic than strategic, but it signaled a major propaganda victory for the United States and Great Britain.
The British born executioner, 27, real name Mohammed Emwazi, was the face of the terrorist group’s propaganda war aimed at the West.
He was filmed decapitating U.S. journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, U.S. aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto among other hostages.
He taunted viewers in his clear British accent and made chilling threats against any Westerner captured by the group. The videos were posted on social media and widely published in edited versions by the news media.
Officials with the U.S. and British government were still withholding confirmation of his death early this morning. Islamist terrorists claimed Emwazi was seriously wounded and taken to a hospital, according to news reports.
What is known is that a car carrying four foreign Islamic State leaders was hit by a U.S. air strike, Rami Abdulrahman, Director of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters.
Abdulrahman said sources had told him that Emwazi and three other militants had been blown to pieces and charred beyond recognition.
Of significance, the attack took placed in the heart of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s declared capital. In an ironic twist, the missile struck in the town square where many executions have taken place.
The United States and Great Britain had put a multi-million dollar price on Jihadi John’s head and vowed to hunt him down. Others who are murdering Western hostages have also been targeted.
Emwazi was reported to be in hiding, living in fear. He had not been seen recently in any video posts.
British Prime Minister David Cameron made the following statement this morning:
“If this strike was successful — and we still await confirmation of that — it will be a strike at the heart of ISIL (Islamic State). It will demonstrate to those who would do Britain, our people and our allies harm, we have a long reach, we have unwavering determination and we never forget about our citizens.”
The United States is stepping up its air campaign against ISIS.