After more than a year of US anti-ISIS airstrikes, "Jihadi John" might finally be history. The Pentagon says Mohammed Emwazi, the brutal militant known for decapitating Western hostages, was the target of a drone strike Thursday night near the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, reports Reuters. Whether the strike on a vehicle actually killed the 27-year-old Briton is uncertain, and will remain so until the intelligence can be assessed. Outlets including CNN and the Guardian quote sources who are confident that the strike killed the militant, who had been under "persistent surveillance." Still, "we cannot yet be certain," British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters Friday morning.
Cameron called the mission an "act of self-defense" and "a strike at the heart" of ISIS, and he said the UK had been working closely with the US to track down the militant. Emwazi was born in Kuwait but was a naturalized British citizen, and the New York Times notes that the idea of going after him troubled rights advocates—similar to the criticism over the US decision to kill American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. Last year, Emwazi grabbed the world's attention with gruesome videos showing the beheading of Western hostages, including three Americans. Former ISIS hostages have described him as a sadist who was fond of torturing and taunting the group's Western prisoners, the AP reports. He got the "Jihadi John" name as part of a British-accented group of militants that prisoners nicknamed the "Beatles."