The death of the British militant known as “Jihadi John” in a drone strike has been confirmed by an obituary in a magazine produced by Isis.
The jihadist, whose real name was Mohammed Emwazi became notorious after he appeared in beheading videos of victims including UK aid worker David Haines and taxi driver Alan Henning.
Referring to him by the name given to him by the group Abu Muharib al-Muhajir, a eulogy to the Kuwaiti-born 26-year-old confirmed the US version of his death. In November, The Pentagon said it was "reasonably certain" it had killed him in a drone strike.
Calling him an “honourable brother” Daqib magazine said that he was killed on 12 November "as the car he was in was targeted in a strike by an unmanned drone in the city of Raqqa, destroying the car and killing him instantly".
A picture shows him dressed in black, unmasked with his smiling face looking towards the ground.
The computer programming graduate who grew up in London shot to fame when he appeared in a video in which US journalist James Foley was murdered.
He also appeared in videos showing the killings of UK hostages Alan Henning and David Haines, American journalist Steven Sotloff, aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig and Japanese journalists Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa shortly before they were killed.
Along with three other Isis militants with British accents, he was dubbed one “the Beatles” by Isis captives.
Emwazi, who moved to London aged six, had come to the attention of security agencies in Britain as one of the self-styled “London Boyz” who raised funds and spread propaganda for the extremist al-Shabaab group in Somalia.
The group played five-a-side football together and went to the same schools and mosques in west London.
Three of them are now dead, several others are serving prison sentences and one is living in Sudan, stripped of his British citizenship.
The group included Bilal al-Berjawi and Mohamed Sakr, both of whom travelled to Somalia to join the Islamist terror group, al-Shabaab. Berjawi is known to have risen to a senior position within the group before being killed in a US drone strike in January 2012.
After leaving the University of Westminster, Emwazi drifted between jobs as a computer programmer and made efforts to move abroad after gaining a foreign-language teaching qualification.
He first came to the attention of MI5 in 2009 when he was detained with two others while travelling to Tanzania for a safari holiday. Intelligence officers believed it was cover and he was attempting to join his friends in al-Shabaab.
His week-long detention in Africa, apparently on British orders, and questioning by an MI5 officer were revealed by The Independent in 2010 – although he then identified himself by a different name.
He eventually left the UK in 2012 or 2013 after changing his name to Mohammed al-Ayan by deed poll. Campaigners from the human rights group Cage claimed that Emwazi had become the subject of a campaign of harassment by MI5 to try to persuade him to become an informant between 2010 and 2012.
Daqib magazine reported that one agent reportedly told him that he was not going anywhere and they would be on him like a shadow.
But he managed to enter Syria in 2013, becoming a top target for US and British intelligence agencies after the execution videos began to circulate.
Although he became the face of Isis, it is not clear he had a particularly important position in the group’s command. A far more important, but still elusive target, is the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Yet the killing had great symbolic significance for the US and its allies which had largely been frustrated in their efforts to impair Isis or take back territory it controls in Syria and Iraq.
At the time of his reported death in November, Prime Minister David Cameron said targeting Emwazi had been “the right thing to do”, adding that they had been working “literally around the clock” to track him down.
Three reaper drones - one British and two American - were involved in the strike. One of the American drones hit the car, and it is believed there was one other person in the vehicle.
While Daqib hoped Allah would accept their brother, when news of death was first reported in December, reaction from the families of those executed was mixed.
Bethany Haines, the daughter of Emwazi’s first British victim, aid worker David Haines, said that she had felt an immediate sense of relief that the former London schoolboy would no longer be involved in any more killings caught on camera.
She also dismissed the importance of Emwazi describing him as an Isis pawn. “After seeing the news that Jihadi John was killed I felt an instant sense of relief, knowing he wouldn’t appear in any more horrific videos,” she told ITV News.Reuse content