The U.S. military said on Friday it was “reasonably certain” a drone strike had killed Jihadi John, Islamic State’s “lead executioner” and a symbol of the militant group’s brutality.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he could not yet confirm the death of Mohammed Emwazi, who had become known as Jihadi John after appearing in videos showing the killings of U.S. and British hostages.
But his foreign minister, Philip Hammond, said in Prague that Britain believed Thursday’s strike in the northern Syrian town of Raqqa had been successful and U.S. Army colonel Steve Warren said in Washington that intelligence indicators allowed for “great confidence” that the figure targeted was Emwazi.
“If this strike was successful — and we still await confirmation of that — it will be a strike at the heart of ISIL (Islamic State),” Cameron said in a statement broadcast live on British television from outside his London residence.
Describing Emwazi as a “barbaric murderer” and Islamic State’s “lead executioner”, he said: “It was the right thing to do.”
Experts said Emwazi’s death would have symbolic importance but questioned whether it would have much impact on Islamic State as he is not seen as a senior military figure.
Emwazi took part in videos showing the murders of U.S. journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, U.S. aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and other hostages.
Shown in the videos dressed entirely in black, a balaclava covering all but his eyes and the bridge…