The father of Mohammed Emwazi, the Londoner identified last week as the Islamic State group executioner known as “Jihadi John,” disputed Wednesday that the media and authorities have provided definitive proof that his son is responsible for beheading hostages for the militant group. Jassem Emwazi, a Kuwait resident who spoke from an undisclosed location, has reportedly hired a lawyer to defend his family and to fight the accusations against his son.
“There is nothing that proves what is being circulated in the media, especially through video clips and footage, that the accused is my son Mohammed, who is being referred to as the alleged executioner of Daesh [the Islamic State group],” Jassem Emwazi told the Kuwait-based Al-Qabas newspaper, according to Agence France-Presse.
Lawyer Salem al-Hashash will defend the Emwazi family’s interests in Kuwait, while another lawyer will be named to represent the Emwazis in Britain. Al-Hashash plans to file lawsuits on the family’s behalf against individuals who have accused Mohammed Emwazi of association with the militant group, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Emwazi’s father made his statement just days after Kuwaiti government officials said the mother of “Jihadi John” recognized her son’s voice immediately on the video of ISIS hostage James Foley’s beheading, according to ABC News. Foley, who was killed last August, was the first known American victim of “Jihadi John.” The officials added that Jassem Emwazi said his family had not spoken to Mohammed Emwazi since 2013, when he contacted them from Turkey to say he planned to undertake humanitarian work in Syria.
The ISIS executioner known as “Jihadi John” drew international attention for speaking clear, British-accented English on the Islamic State group’s execution videos of Foley, American journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker Alan Henning and several other individuals. Emwazi, who was born in Kuwait, grew up in London and attended college there to learn computer programming before he purportedly went to Syria in 2012, according to the Washington Post. Authorities used voice analysis, extensive interviews and other techniques to identify Emwazi.
“I have no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John,” an unidentified acquaintance told the Washington Post. “He was like a brother to me. … I am sure it is him.”