Society

Masked Jihadist Responsible for Beheading James Foley Identified By British Government

| by Lisa Fogarty

The masked Muslim extremist who is responsible for beheading American journalist James Foley has been identified by British security services.

Up until now, little was known about the jihadist known as “John the Beatle,” who can be seen on video clutching Foley from behind while holding a knife and speaking in a British accent, but senior government officials confirmed last night that they have identified the suspected killer and member of the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, reports New York Post.

Although M15 and M16 officials won’t release the suspect’s name, many believe he is 23-year-old British rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, who reportedly comes from a privileged home in west London, reports The Sunday Times. Sources say the man, who recently tweeted a photo of himself holding a severed head, left England last year and traveled to Syria to fight in its war.

Bary is one of four jihadist suspects nicknamed “the Beatles,” whom British authorities believe may be behind Foley’s capture and murder. The others include the brother of a British doctor and a former gang member who converted to Islam and, like Bary, made his way to Syria in order to fight in its war.

“It is horrible to think that the perpetrator of this heinous act could have been brought up in Britain,” British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond wrote in the Sunday Times.

According to experts, more than 500 British nationals have traveled to Syria and Iraq in recent months with the intention of carrying out “brazen” acts of violence in the region, reports The Telegraph. It has been suggested that Foley’s death, at the hands of British Muslim extremists, sends forth the message that United Kingdom militants are no longer “foot soldiers within Isil,” but have assumed senior positions within the established organization.

“This is the first time we have seen the ISIL adopt this rather aggressive, directly confrontational approach to the Western world with the execution of James Foley,” said Shiraz Maher, of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College in London. “If that intensifies, they may look to British fighters, within their ranks … to look towards sending some of them back to carry out attacks here. It’s a very real threat.”

Sources: New York Post, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph

Photo Credit: Reuters