Sky News has spoken to a former member of Islamic State, “Saleh,” who claims he witnessed the man known as Jihadi John murder Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, although he saw it from quite a distance away.
You can watch the full interview below:
The former translator and ISIS defector, which is defined as being “a person who gives up allegiance to one state in exchange for allegiance to another,” said that the masked man in the video was indeed Mohammed Emwazi, the 26-year-old Londoner who has become the face of the world’s most notorious terrorist organization.
Saleh said Emwazi is employed as the chief killer of foreign hostages for Islamic State’s media wing and that his murderous influence among the group is feared and respected. Saleh suggested Emwazi has so much respect within the group because he is completely willing to murder foreigners and he is the only one to do so.
Speaking from Turkey, where he fled to escape ISIS, Saleh explained in broken English how he was employed by the group to convince foreign hostages they were safe.
He said regarding Goto’s murder, “After he was killed him, three or four person come and take over the body and put in a car. After that, John went on a different road.”
Saleh claims foreign hostages captured and murdered by the group were subjected to numerous mock executions until the procedure became normal, which explains why many hostages appeared calm in execution videos published online by the group.
He said, “He would say to me ‘say to them, no problem, only video, we don’t kill you, we want from your government [to] stop attacking Syria. We don’t have any problem with you; you are only our visitors’.
Sky News took away 6 main revelations from the interview:
1. The man nicknamed Jihadi John is indeed Mohammed Emwazi, the 26-year-old Briton suspected of killing a number of foreign hostages. And he is “the big boss”, the only one who gives orders to others.
2. Emwazi is feared and respected within the group, possibly because he was prepared to kill foreigners.
3. Saleh is the only man to have seen Emwazi kill, and admit to seeing it. He said, “When he killed [Japanese hostage] Kenji Goto I saw this, but not near, from a little distance.”
4. The hostages were compliant when it came to their deaths because they did not realize they were really going to die – they had been subjected to mock executions so frequently that they believed that they were safe.
5. The hostages were given Arabic names to convince them they were among friends and to calm them down.
Kenji Goto was given the name Abu Saad. Saleh said, “Maybe they could not say Kenji Goto so they say Abu Saad. But when I noticed Goto, when they said Abu Saad to Goto, direct he relax.”
6. The command and control structure within IS in Raqqa is dominated by foreigners, about 70% are foreign fighters in charge of around 30% Syrians – and there are more foreigners coming.