Ex-Hostage: 'John' the Jihadist Beheaded James Foley

Hostages dubbed captors 'the Beatles' because of UK accents

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 21, 2014 6:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – A former hostage says he went by the name "John." Now the FBI and British intelligence are trying to identify the UK-born jihadist who led a group of captors in Syria and likely beheaded James Foley. "John" was a smart, educated, fervent believer in radical Islam, an ex-hostage tells the Guardian. He also apparently led talks in two earlier hostage negotiations, one of which led to the release of 11 captives this year after ransom demands were met. Now linguistics experts are trying to pinpoint his origins by listening to the video: "He probably has a foreign language background but it sounds like multicultural London English," says one.

Didier François, a journalist and former ISIS hostage who was held with Foley, says he vaguely recognized Foley's killer, the Independent reports: "Recognized is a very big word," he said. "I see roughly who it is." Francois said he hasn't talked about Foley and another journalist still being held, Steven Sotloff, because his captors warned him not to: "Their exact words were: 'They’ll be punished.'" British citizens have been flocking to Syria and Iraq in droves to fight for jihadists, say UK officials, but one terrorism expert sees something new here: a British expat beheading an American. "This is significant because it signifies a turn towards threatening the west," he said. "They are saying we're going to come after you if you bomb us." (Meanwhile, a documentary made by Foley is coming to Netflix.)

In this May 27, 2011, file photo shows American Journalist James Foley, of Rochester, N.H., as he poses for a photo in Boston.
In this May 27, 2011, file photo shows American Journalist James Foley, of Rochester, N.H., as he poses for a photo in Boston.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
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