LONDON (AP) — A British-accented militant who has appeared in beheading videos released by the Islamic State group in Syria over the past few months bears “striking similarities” to a man who grew up in London, a Muslim lobbying group said Thursday.
Mohammed Emwazi has been identified by news organizations as the masked militant more commonly known as “Jihadi John.”
London-based CAGE, which works with Muslims in conflict with British intelligence services, said Thursday its research director, Asim Qureshi, saw strong similarities, but because the hood worn by the militant, “there was no way he could be 100 percent certain.”
The Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence at King’s College London, which closely tracks fighters in Syria, also said it believed the identification was correct.
British counterterrorism officials wouldn’t confirm the man’s identity.
According to The Washington Post and the BBC, Emwazi was born in Kuwait, grew up in west London and studied computer programming at the University of Westminster. The university confirmed that a student of that name graduated in 2009.
“If these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened by the news,” the university said in a statement.
The news outlets said Emwazi had been known to Britain’s intelligence services before he traveled to Syria in 2012.
CAGE said that in 2010 Emwazi complained that British intelligence services were preventing him from traveling to the country of his birth, Kuwait, where he planned to marry.
No one answered the door at the brick row house in west London where the Emwazi family is alleged to have lived. Neighbors in the surrounding area of public housing projects either declined comment or said they did not know the family.
Associated Press writers Raphael Satter and Danica Kirka contributed to this report.
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