Late yesterday the Pentagon announced that it launched a drone strike against Islamic State terrorist Mohammed Emwazi, the man who served as the “face” of the group’s gruesome and infamous beheading videos.
Emwazi, also known as “Jihadi John,” was wounded a year ago during airstrikes in Anbar Province that killed 10 terrorists and wounded at least 40 others. Emwazi had joined tribal leaders from around the region in a bunker near the Iraqi-Syrian border to pledge their allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Intelligence following the strikes was muddied, but officials believed that Emwazi was taken to a local hospital before being returned to ISIS headquarters. Over the past year, western officials have conducted extensive surveillance in an effort to determine Emwazi’s whereabouts—and if reports are correct, they finally found him.
Yesterday’s strike hit outside of the de facto ISIS capital of Raqqa in northern Syria. Officials have yet to confirm whether or not Emwazi died in the attack; Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said, “We are assessing the results of tonight’s operation and will provide additional information as and where appropriate.” A U.S. senior official told CNN that authorities are confident that the strike was successful; a second source said that authorities positively identified Emwazi before they launched the drone at the vehicle Emwazi was riding in.
More from WaPo:
It’s not clear that Emwazi’s death, if confirmed, would have an important effect on the Islamic State’s strength or its hostage operations. But the killing of a well-known militant who embodies the brutal tactics of the militant group, and its allure to Westerners, would be a symbolic blow.
Since it launched airstrikes over Iraq and Syria last year, the United States has killed a number of militants it has described as senior members of the Islamic State. But if Emwazi’s death is confirmed, he would be by far the best-known militant to have been slain. The group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remains at large.
Despite more than a year of U.S. and allied efforts against the Islamic State, the group remains a potent force that controls a wide swath of territory across Iraq and Syria.
NBC News has a pretty detailed history of Emwazi’s descent into madness:
WaPo has a powerful graphic from earlier this year detailing the Islamic State’s atrocities—many of which featured Emwazi.
A U.S. official speaking to NBC News described the motive behind the direct targeting, saying, “there is no vengeance, but there is accountability.”
I like the U.S. military’s version of “accountability.” Enjoy Hell, “John.”
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