The United States conducted an air strike on Thursday in the Syrian city of Iraq targeting DAESH terrorist known as ‘Jihadi John’, who participated in beheadings of American and British hostages in gruesome videos, Pentagon officials said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday didn't clarify whether Mohammed Emwazi, a British citizen, was killed saying that US officials were still assessing the strike against the DAESH terrorist.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also spoke outside his residence on Friday that Britain and the US conducted the strike against Emwazi cooperatively and it was “an act of self-defense. It was the right thing to do.”
"If this strike was successful -- and we still await confirmation of that -- it will be a strike at the heart of ISIS (DAESH)," he added.
"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."
A US official, who spoke anonymously, said the air strike likely killed Emwazi but it was too early to say something certain.
Emwazi was reportedly targeted by a drone, AFP reported citing media outlets.
The Pentagon was reportedly assessing the effectiveness of the air strike that took place in Raqqa, the de facto capital of DAESH. It is not yet clear how long the assessing would take for a final determination.
The US official also said that the operation had been planned for days. There are still points that remain unclear, including how the US tracked Emwazi down and how it planned the operation.
The air strike came as Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by US-led air strikes blocked a key DAESH supply line with Syria in fights to retake the town of Sinjar from the terrorists, a year after US President Barack Obama promised to defeat them.
The US has been seeking to increase pressure on DAESH terrorists after they seized parts of Syria and Iraq, including deploying dozens of special operations forces to Syria, supplying more weaponry to US-backed Syrian fighters and intensifying US air strikes against the terrorist group.
If Emwazi’s death is confirmed, it would be an important milestone in the US-led campaign against the DAESH.
Emwazi, a London computer programmer, was born in Kuwait, whose family is of Iraqi origin. His parents had moved to Britain in 1993 because they could not get Kuwaiti citizenship.
After British and US media called him ‘Jihadi John’, he first appeared in a video in August 2014 that shows the beheading of Foley, who had been missing since he was seized in Syria in November 2012.
In the video, DAESH said that Foley was killed because Obama ordered air strikes against the group in northern Iraq. Foley was wearing an orange jump suit that resembles those dressed by prisoners at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Emwazi was all in black with a mask on his face.
The video of the beheading that the DAESH terrorists called ‘A Message to America’ sparked strong reaction from all over the world.
Two weeks later, Foley’s fellow hostage Steven Sotloff was killed in the same way by being recorded with a camera by the same executioner with a British accent.
On Nov. 16., DAESH declared it had murdered Peter Kassig and a US aid worker seized in Syria in October 2013, again as a warning to Washington.
‘Jihadi John’ was one of the world’s most wanted men, a menacing symbol of DAESH brutality. He then participated in several more videos showing the murders of hostages.
The terrorist group was using the videos to threaten the West, and to warn its Arab allies and taunt Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron in front of hostages wearing orange jump suits.
"Emwazi, a British citizen, participated in the videos showing the murders of US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and a number of other hostages," the Pentagon said.