The Jihadist who beheaded American journalist James Foley while being videographed is believed to be in charge of holding foreign hostages in Raqqa, Syria, which comes under the control of Islamic State rebels, according to yet-to-be officially confirmed reports quoted in the press. The video of the execution entitled “A message to America” shows a man swathed in black whose British accent puts him as one amongst the hundreds of U.K. citizens who went to fight in Syria with the anti-government rebels, and eventually joined the forces of IS.
The man, who called himself John, is believed to be the main rebel negotiator on hostages for IS. He was described as “intelligent, educated and a devout believer in radical Islamic teachings”, by a former hostage to The Guardian. The group of three U.K.-born militants who were in charge of the hostages were apparently referred to as “the Beatles” because of their nationality, the former captive told The Guardian.
James Foley was taken hostage in 2012. The video of his beheading was publicly issued by the IS-run media outlet called Al Furqan.
The U.K. Metropolitan Police have warned that viewing, downloading or disseminating the video could be a crime under the anti-terrorism laws.
Prime Minister David Cameron broke his holiday for the second time to hold briefings on the crisis. From Downing Street he said that it is “increasingly likely” that a British jihadist carried out the killing. “Let me condemn the barbaric and brutal act that has taken place and let's be clear what this act is — it is an act of murder, and murder without any justification,” Mr. Cameron said.
However, he ruled out any change in Britain’s policy towards the escalating crisis in the Middle East, ruling out the possibility of sending troops to the region.
British intelligence agencies are using voice recognition technology to identify the suspected British executioner. His accent suggests that he may be from London.
Meanwhile, two other former hostages of the IS have spoken to the media on the killer’s identity.
One of them, 53-year old Didier Francois, was released this April.
He told Europe 1 Radio that he was warned that if he told the media that he had been held with Mr. Foley and Steve Sotloff (another hostage) reprisals would follow.
Mr. Francois is reported as saying that Mr. Foley had been singled out for extra beating because his captors discovered photographs of his brother, who works for the U.S. Air Force.
This was confirmed by Nicolas Henin a reporter who was also taken hostage by IS forces. He told L’Express magazine that Mr. Foley became the “whipping boy of jailors” because of his brother and the fact that he was American.