26 Feb 2015

‘Jihadi John’ and the security services: the background

Communities Editor

It is understood that the security services have long known the identity of the man dubbed Jihadi John. On Thursday they have faced accusations that MI5 tried to recruit him before he left for Syria.

It’s been claimed that Mohammed Emwazi grew up in a well-to-do family from west London. He graduated from University with a computer science degree – but what set him on the path to radicalisation?

According to the advocacy group Cage, in 2009 Emwazi tried to go on safari with two friends in Tanzania. However, Emwazi claimed they were detained by police and eventually deported. It’s not clear why – or how he subsequently ended up in Amsterdam. Once there, he then claimed that MI5 tried to recruit him.

Emwazi returned to England, but apparently told Cage he was repeatedly harassed by counter-terrorism officials.

The security services have refused to comment. But they will have been investigating what set this apparently middle class, well educated man on the path to join the most brutal organisation in the world.