Jihadi John has a real name, and the BBC and the Washington Post report that name is Mohammed Emwazi. The masked executioner in several ISIS beheading videos—including the first one of James Foley—was born in Kuwait, raised comfortably in West London, and has a degree in computer programming. The BBC says his identity had been known for some time by UK and American security forces, but kept quiet for "operational reasons." Police are tight-lipped. "We are not going to confirm the identity of anyone at this stage or give an update on the progress of this live counterterrorism investigation," Cmdr. Richard Walton of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command said in a statement, per Reuters. An anonymous US intelligence official confirmed Emwazi's identity this morning to CBS News.
"There was an extremely strong resemblance," says a rights group rep who corresponded with Emwazi before he went to Syria in 2012. Watching an ISIS video "is making me feel fairly certain that this is the same person." Although described as polite and quiet, Emwazi became more radical after he graduated from the University of Westminster, friends tell the Post. He reportedly became increasingly agitated over interactions with British security agents who accused him of trying to join al-Shabab in Somalia; he also had a beef with counterterrorism agents he says kept him from returning to Kuwait, where he had planned a new life. "I have no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John," a source who says he's a close friend of Emwazi tells the Post. "He was like a brother to me. … I am sure it is him."