Jihadi John was compassionate with orphans, protective of Muslims, and so generous toward his fellow militants that he once offered his personal concubine to an injured, unmarried friend.
At least, that’s the account offered in Tuesday’s edition of Dabiq, the Islamic State’s English-language magazine, which confirmed the notorious militant’s death in a drone strike in November. U.S. officials announced shortly after the strike that they were “reasonably certain” Jihadi John — whose real name was Mohammed Emwazi — had been killed, and Tuesday’s obituary corroborated those suspicions.
In the West, Emwazi gained notoriety after officials identified him to likely be the masked man who appeared in videos threatening — and then killing — British and American aid workers and journalists, including James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Both were held hostage by the Islamic State and then slowly beheaded on camera by who is believed to be Emwazi. The graphic videos soon became a gruesome calling card of sorts for the group.
But conspicuously, Tuesday’s edition of Dabiq fails to specifically mention anything about those killings, instead saying only that “his harshness towards the kuffar [unbelievers] was manifested through deeds that enraged all the nations, religions, and factions of kufr [unbelievers], the entire world bearing witness to this.”
The rest of the obituary — which includes a full body shot of the British extremist and takes up two pages of the magazine — tells how he was radicalized in England, contemplated joining al-Shabab in Somalia, and eventually caught the attention of British intelligence officers.
But when he ultimately decided to move to Syria, he did so just days after a British intelligence officer warned him he was being closely monitored. “You’re not going anywhere,” the magazine claims the officer said said. “We are going to be on you like a shadow.”
Dabiq claims that for two months, Emwazi traveled through Europe’s “marshy farmlands” with an unnamed companion, and was stopped by security officials in two different countries.
The article’s goal seems to be to paint the jihadi as a rough around the edges fighter with a big heart, even saying that his compassion “wasn’t witnessed except by those who knew him.” It goes on to share anecdotes of his most generous moments, including one that claims after one of his fellow Islamic State fighters died, “he would also frequently frequently visit his orphaned son, taking him to the masājid [mosque] and entertaining him with trips out to the park and the zoo,” according to the magazine.
And after receiving a concubine as a gift, when another militant was injured, “he did not hesitate to give her away – likewise as a gift – to an unmarried injured brother.” The Islamic State is understood to have a large-scale system for buying and selling Yazidi and Christian women, then justifying their rapes by calling them unbelievers. The article does not clarify whether the woman in this instance was Yazidi or Christian.
Jihadi John’s obituary was not the only tribute in Tuesday’s magazine. The foreword also praised Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, the terrorists who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California in December.
They “proved that they were ready to sacrifice what was dearest to them,” the article says, adding “they left their baby daughter in the care of others knowing that they likely wouldn’t see her again in this life.”
Image Credit: Screenshot, Dabiq