“Jihadi John,” the Briton believed to have beheaded the American ISIS hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff, may have been injured in U.S.-led airstrikes last week, the British government said Saturday. The comments came amid a Daily Mail report that claimed Jihadi John was taken to an Iraqi hospital after he was injured in a bombing targeting a meeting of Islamic State leaders on the Iraq-Syria border.
"We are aware of reports," a British Foreign Office spokeswoman told Reuters, adding the office was looking into the possibility Jihadi John was injured. "We cannot confirm these reports."
Jihadi John, also known as Jalman al-Britani, was at a meeting in an underground bunker attended by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that was targeted in U.S.-led airstrikes last week, the Daily Mail reported. About 40 militants were injured in the strike last Saturday, and Jihadi John was taken to a hospital in al-Qaim, Iraq, before being transported to the Islamic State group’s headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. Baghdadi was also reported wounded in the attack.
The British Foreign Office told the Daily Mail it is investigating the accuracy of the reports, but is hampered by a lack of presence in Syria where ISIS controls a large swath of territory.
“The incident occurred last weekend, and so we have received the reports in the last few days,” a spokesman said. “We don’t have any representation inside Syria, and so it is difficult to confirm these reports.”
Jihadi John was the name given by the media to the masked figure who had a British accent and appeared in the beheading videos of Foley, Sotloff and the British hostages David Haines and Alan Henning. In the Foley and Sotloff videos, the knife-wielding terrorist issues a “message to America” to abandon the airstrikes aimed at ISIS.