The English jihadist who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in a gruesome video on Tuesday has been identified as a Londoner named “John,” The Guardian reported on Wednesday.
A former hostage who been guarded by “John” suggested that Foley’s executioner is one of three British militants purportedly responsible for guarding foreign hostages in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, a stronghold for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.
According to the newspaper, “John” was allegedly the main negotiator earlier this year in mediations that led to the release of 11 foreign hostages that were then handed to the Turkish authorities and dispatched to their respective countries, reported the newspaper.
“John” is described by The Telegraph as an intelligent and well-educated man who is “highly committed” to ISIS.
Sources told the newspaper that “John” and his fellow hostage guards have been named “The Beatles,” in reference to the popular English pop band.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who broke off his holiday after the video’s release, said it was “increasingly likely” that the ISIS militants who appeared in the video are British, but added that UK police is still trying to identify the killer, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
Richard Barrett, the former chief for UK spy agency MI6 said the militant will be identified and the elite Special Air Service (SAS) will be sent to Syria to “bring him to justice,” he told BBC Radio 4.
Barrett, who headed the counter-terrorism division for MI6 at the time of 9/11, said he was sure the murderer would be arrested and taken back to Britain for trial “sooner or later.”
“I don’t think anyone is prepared to forget this sort of crime and therefore the long arm of justice will eventually catch him.”
In the video after Foley's execution, the frame switches to a man identified on screen as Steven Joel Sotloff. He kneels in an orange jumpsuit as the executioner says, “The life of this American prisoner, Obama, depends on your next decision.”
ISIS had previously sent a list of demands for the release of the foreign prisoners, some financial and others to exchange prisoners, one fo them being Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist with ties to al-Qaeda currently held in Texas, the New York Times reported.
The U.S. confirmed the authenticity of the video which ISIS says responds to Obama’s offensive against the militant group.
Titled “A Message To America,” the video begins with footage from earlier this month of Obama authorizing military air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq.
Since the release of the video Tuesday, U.S. air forces have conducted 14 air strikes on ISIS militants near the Mosul Dam in Iraq, AFP reported Wednesday.
Looking forward, the U.S. State Department refused ruling out future military operations in Syria. Meanwhile, President Obama confirmed the possibility of sending a small number of U.S. troops to Baghdad.
The drones and fighter jets damaged six ISIS Humvees, three sites for improvised explosive devices, one mortar tube and two armed trucks, the Central Command said in a statement released on Wednesday.SHOW MORE