Weekly world news round-up: ‘Jihadi John’ identified, drone mystery in Paris and more
Four international stories from this week that we think you should be aware of.
1. ‘Jihadi John’ identified
On Thursday morning the Washington Post published the real name of ‘Jihadi John’ – the masked Islamic State militant with a British accent, responsible for the beheadings of several hostages. The public executioner has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born Briton in his mid-20s.
Hostages, released by the Islamic State gave him the moniker ‘Jihadi John’ and described him as one of three British jihadists (known as ‘the Beatles’) guarding Westerners abducted by the terrorist group in Syria. Among his victims are US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, British aid workers Alan Henning and David Haines, US aid worker Peter Kassig and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto.
Friends of Emwazi told the Washington Post that he was raised in a middle-class neighborhood in west London, had a keen interest in football, studied computer programming at the University of Westminster and on occasion prayed at a mosque in Greenwich. They believe he started to radicalise after 2009 when he wanted to go on a safari in Tanzania but was denied permission to enter the country.
The BBC reports that Emwazi has been a ‘person of interest’ to British security services ever since he travelled to Tanzania but they chose not to reveal his name earlier for ‘operational reasons’. Emails, disclosed by British advocacy group Cage, show that Emwazi complained about being harassed by MI5. There have been allegations that security services tried to recruit Islamic State militant as agent. A US government official confirmed the ruthless killer’s identity to the Guardian, after MI5 refused to comment on the reports.
2. Drone mystery in Paris
Mysterious drones were spotted flying over the Eiffel Tower, the US Embassy and other Paris landmarks, causing some panic among Parisians more than a month after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.
At least five drones were sighted between 11 p.m. on Tuesday and 2 a.m. on Wednesday. French officials said that the security threat from this drones is minimal, however, flying the machines at night is banned completely. In France unlicensed flights of any kind are illegal and the offence carries a maximum one-year prison sentence and a $85,000 fine, according to the Associated Press.
On Wednesday afternoon, while investigating into the mysterious sightings, Paris police detained three Al-Jazeera journalists for illegally flying a drone. The media organisation said in a tweet that the journalists were in fact filming a report about the city’s mystery drones.
The three men were freed but one of them will appear in court next week, even though there is no evidence that links him and his colleagues to the two nights of mysterious drone flights over the French capital, reports the BBC.
3. Alleged ‘Gestapo’ tactics at US police
After investigating into Chicago police abuse, on Tuesday the Guardian exposed that the Chicago police department is using ‘Gestapo-like tactics’. Allegedly, CPD is detaining suspects without booking them, thus preventing their relatives and lawyers from knowing their location.
‘Off-the-books interrogations’ are being held at a warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square. Alleged police practices happening there include beating by police, shackling for long periods, holding people without legal counsel and keeping them out of official booking databases.
A protester interviewed by the Guardian said that in 2012, ahead of a Nato protest, he was questioned at the secretive warehouse, handcuffed to a bar behind bench for about 17 hours and was denied the right to call his attorney.
Amnesty International USA has urged the Mayor of Chicago to open his own ‘independent and impartial investigation’ into practices undertaken at Homan Square facility.
4. Missing British schoolgirls likely in Syria
Three missing London schoolgirls are believed to have been ‘picked up by IS men’ at Turkey-Syria border, the BBC reported on Wednesday. It is believed that the girls have crossed into Syria willingly and that they travelled there to join the radical militant group.
Shamima Begum and Amira Abasa, both 15, and 16-year old Kadiza Sultana are currently being searched for after they left London last Tuesday and boarded a flight to Istanbul. The Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit confirmed that the girls have most likely crossed the border into Syria.
Following the girls’ disappearance, Turkey’s ambassador to Britain and the chief executive of the country’s national airline have been called to appear before MPs in London and give evidence about the problem of young people using Turkey as a route to Syria’s battlefields, informed the Guardian.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc attacked Britain for delay in informing the Turkish authorities about the situation. “It is a condemnable act for Britain to let three girls come to Istanbul and then let us know three days later. They haven’t taken the necessary measures,” said Arinc.