Officials in the U.K. are close to identifying the man who beheaded American Journalist James Foley. The Times of Israel reported Sunday that Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a local London rapper, is the main suspect in the case. Intelligence officials believe that Bary left London for Syria with the goal of joining the Islamic State.

Although officials would not confirm that Bary is indeed the man seen in the video of Foley’s execution, they have not denied reports covering the possibility of suspects:


“We’re not in a position to say exactly who this is,” Sir Peter Westmacott said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” but “I think we are close.” Westmacott said “sophisticated” voice recognition technology was being used to identify the man who appeared in the video, but he also stressed that the threat of British nationals in ISIS goes beyond one killer.

“It’s not just about one brutal murderer,” Westmacott said. British intelligence estimates that about 500 Britons have joined ISIS, meaning they have the means to return to Britain or fly to America with few hindrances. “It is a threat to our citizens,” Westmacott said.

The FBI started investigating the circumstances surrounding Foley’s disappearance in 2012, just after Foley was kidnapped by ISIS militants in northern Syria. Bary, who is just 23 years old, has had connections to the Islamic State all his life. His father, Egyptian national Adel Abdul Bary, was extradited to the U.S. in 2012 after officials connected him to the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in east Africa. Bary expressed his frustration over his father’s prosecution through his music, and his most recent videos (linked here via the Times) are rife with violent lyrics and a desire to rebel against authority.


Bary’s taste for violence reportedly translated into a taste for torture. Reports out of Syria paint an appalling picture of the conditions that Foley and other hostages endured during their time with Bary and his cohorts:

The Sunday Mirror, citing British intelligence sources, identified two other suspects as 20-year-old Abu Hussain al-Britani, originally from Birmingham, and 23-year-old Abu Abduallah al-Britani (no known relation), originally from the county of Hampshire on England’s south coast.

The Mail on Sunday reported that the three men known as “John,” “George,” and “Ringo” had formed a special kidnapping gang that may have targeted Westerners like Foley. The paper reported that the hostages regarded the group as particularly vicious jailers, who routinely beat their prisoners and tortured them with Tasers. At one point, the paper reported, the “Beatles” were actually prohibited from guarding the hostages due to the level of violence they inflicted.

According to The Mail on Sunday, the “Beatles” also boasted that they had made millions of dollars from ransoms paid by European countries, enough to “retire to Kuwait or Qatar,” as one hostage told the paper.

American defense officials confirmed last week that ISIS presents a credible threat outside of the Middle East. The United States is pursuing a long term strategy against the organization, and in reports emphasize its organized and well-funded nature. Officials seem to be in agreement with Texas Governor Rick Perry and others in thinking that an “open borders” philosophy could present opportunities for ISIS agents trained in places like Syria to repatriate to their home countries and extend ISIS’s terror network.

“This is not a regional threat. This is a national threat,” reported Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin.