- Islamic State killer sent astonishing emails to Mail on Sunday reporter
- Executioner Jihadi John was this week unmasked as Mohammed Emwazi
- The emails were sent to Security Editor Robert Verkaik in 2010 and 2011
- Verkaik corresponded with Emwazi regarding his claims he was victimised
- He claimed he was a ‘dead man walking’ and MI5 was closing in on him
- They offer remarkable insight into his paranoid and extreme state of mind
Ian Gallagher For The Mail On Sunday
17:01 EST, 28 February 2015
09:36 EST, 1 March 2015
The ISIS killer known as Jihadi John (pictured) claimed he was a ‘dead man walking’ in emails to a Mail on Sunday journalist
The Islamic State killer known as Jihadi John revealed that he knew British security services were closing in on him and that he was a ‘dead man walking’ in astonishing emails to a Mail on Sunday journalist.
His emails were sent before he left Britain to join Islamic State in Syria.
At the time, Mohammed Emwazi, the man now unmasked as the knife-wielding fanatic, was claiming to be an innocent victim of MI5 persecution.
Emwazi, who would go on to orchestrate at least six hostage murders in Syria, said the harassment affected him so badly he was contemplating suicide. ‘I’ll take as many pills as I can so that I will sleep for ever,’ he warned. His emails to Security Editor Robert Verkaik in December 2010 and 2011 offer a remarkable insight into his state of mind at a time when he was already deeply immersed in extremism.
Some verge on the paranoid, with frequent complaints that his every move is being shadowed by intelligence officers.
The news comes amid a series of revelations that:
- Emwazi was a member of a secret Osama Bin Laden sleeper cell based in Britain called The London Boys, which planned to carry out atrocities in the West;
- He was involved with a violent street gang who targeted the wealthy residents of Belgravia with stun guns;
- Emwazi was arrested trying to force his way past security on to a passenger flight from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Johannesburg without a passport in 2009;
- The IS executioner’s father was a policeman in Kuwait before he moved his family to Britain;
- David Cameron will announce new plans to give spies greater powers to eavesdrop on terror suspects’ electronic communication.
A few months before he first contacted Verkaik, Emwazi was stopped at Heathrow and prevented from flying to Kuwait, where he was born.
He claimed he was interrogated by an aggressive officer who threw him against a wall, grabbed his beard and strangled him. He later complained to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
It was as he awaited a response that he first met Verkaik, later sending him, over subsequent weeks, a series of emails chronicling his alleged victimisation.
In one, he recounts what he suggests was a sinister encounter with an MI5 agent.
Mohammed Emwazi (pictured) claimed he was interrogated by an aggressive officer at Heathrow who threw him against a wall, grabbed his beard and strangled him
Having advertised his laptop on classified adverts website Gumtree, he went to meet a prospective buyer at Maida Vale underground station near his West London home.
He wrote, ungrammatically: ‘When I sell anything via internet i always only write my surname in the ad… I went to meet that person… so that he could have a look at the laptop & if it satisfied him then he would buy it…
‘That person to my surprise didn’t even bother looking to see of the laptop works or not!!! (when you buy something, from someone you’ve never seen before you most likely would test the product!!)…
‘Anyway, in a matter of seconds, I gave him the laptop (thinking that hes going to test the laptop) & he gave me the money straight-away… We “shacked hands” & he said “nice doing business with you Mohammed”. I NEVER TOLD THIS PERSON MY FIRST NAME!! & I NEVER GIVE OUT MY FIRST NAME!! IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM TO KNOW MY FIRST NAME!!’
He added: ‘I felt shocked, & paused for a few seconds as he walked away… I knew it was them!! Sometimes i feel like im a dead man walking, not fearing they may kill me.
‘Rather, fearing that one day, I’ll take as many pills as I can so that I can sleep for ever!! I just want to get away from these people!!!’
Shy schoolboy who became world’s most wanted fanatic
Peering over a classmate’s shoulder during a game of chess, this is the boy who would become the merciless terrorist butcher Jihadi John.
The image, exclusive to The Mail on Sunday, shows ten-year-old Mohammed Emwazi in his last week at St Mary Magdalene Church of England primary school in Maida Vale, West London.
A former classmate said: ‘I was horrified to find out the Mohammed I spent years with was this person.
‘I don’t know what happened in his life to turn him into this. This was the last week of Year 6 and we were having fun before going our separate ways.’
Mohammed Emwazi, aged ten, peers over a classmate’s shoulder in his last week at St Mary Magdalene Church of England primary school, west London
Did he fly the ‘flag of jihadis’ at Harrow rally celebrating 9/11?
This is believed to be Jihadi John attending a hate-filled rally outside a mosque where one of the killers of Drummer Lee Rigby gave a speech.
Mohammed Emwazi is said to have attended the demonstration outside the Harrow Central Mosque in North-West London in 2009 to ‘celebrate’ the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
During the rally, which attracted at least 1,500 people, Michael Adebolajo spoke to the crowd of his contempt for ‘unbelievers’. Adebolajo – who is in prison for Rigby’s murder – said: ‘They are pigs. Allah says they are worse than cattle. Do not be scared of them. And do not turn your back to them. Don’t be scared of them, or police, or the cameras.’
Onlookers said they also saw a tall Kuwaiti man, believed to be Emwazi, masked with a scarf, and holding aloft a black flag with the Islamic testimony of faith in Arabic.
The flag is usually associated with extremists and jihadis.
This photo is believed to be of Emwazi, now known as Jihadi John, flying a ‘jihadi’ flag outside a mosque
Emwazi claimed the constant harassment wrecked his relationships with women. To illustrate a possible story, he said he would send ‘a picture of one of my past girlfriends, but I must ask her permission’.
It was not forthcoming.
Verkaik recalled: ‘Like many young Muslim men at the time who I had interviewed, he appeared to have a grievance against the police and MI5. But this man was different – in him was a warped sense of injustice that could never justify the barbaric acts of murder that he has gone on to carry out in Syria.’
Details of Emwazi’s remarkable encounter with The Mail on Sunday emerged as it was revealed that he was once part of a terrorist unit tasked by Osama Bin Laden with launching atrocities in Britain.
He was a member of a ‘sleeper’ cell dubbed The London Boys, which included three operatives allegedly trained at an Al Qaeda camp in Somalia. All three were close associates of Emwazi. Until now, Emwazi was thought only to have been a peripheral figure among the capital’s Islamic extremists. Yet a court document seen by this newspaper alleges that he was closely involved in the cell’s activities, including the ‘provision of funds and equipment to Somalia… for terrorism related activity’.
KILLER’S FATHER WAS KUWAIT POLICEMAN BEFORE MOVE TO UK
Jasem Emwazi took his son Mohammed (pictured) to London when the boy was six years old
By Nick Craven
The father of Jihadi John was a police officer in Kuwait before the family moved to Britain, according to a former friend.
Jasem Emwazi took his wife, children and eldest son Mohammed, then six, to start a new life in London in 1994.
‘Jasem was in the police like many Bedoons,’ said the friend.
Meanwhile, a senior Kuwaiti military source suggested that, in common with many of his Bedoon ethnic group who originally stemmed from Southern Iraq, Mr Emwazi would have found it difficult to regain his police job in Kuwait following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War.
‘Many Bedoon joined the Kuwaiti police and military in the 70s and 80s, even though they were not citizens of Kuwait,’ said the friend who knew the family when they lived in the scruffy enclave of Taima, ten miles from Kuwait City.
Recently retired Kuwait army colonel Fahad Al-Shilaimi said many of the stateless Bedoon were sacked from the police in the early 1990s.
‘In the days after Saddam’s men left, anyone with a link to Iraq found their loyalty questioned, and many were sacked. Perhaps that was the reason the family left Kuwait.’
He added that the Kuwaiti authorities would now be investigating Mohammed Emwazi’s activities in Kuwait when he returned there for a computer job in 2009-10.
The Kuwaiti Ministry of the Interior is conducting a ‘major investigation’ into Jihadi John’s eight months in the emirate, a senior security expert said.
‘They will be looking into every facet of his life: his friends, his colleagues, his girlfriend, his communications,’ said Al-Shilaimi. ‘They will want to know which mosque he went to and who he spent time with. Many will be interrogated as the ministry wants to make sure any IS sympathisers are identified.’
The colonel also said that MI5 may have ‘failed’ the Kuwaitis by not alerting them to Emwazi’s trip there in 2009, only months after he was deported from Tanzania.
‘It is concerning that Kuwait may have been failed by MI5. If we had known, we could have questioned him or put him under surveillance,’ he said.
Before his death, Bin Laden sent ‘angry’ messages from his Pakistan hideout urging those returning from training to carry out attacks.
Inevitably, the depth of Emwazi’s involvement in extremism – during a period when he was being monitored by MI5 – will increase pressure on security chiefs, who have faced criticism for failing to stop him joining IS in Syria.
Details of Emwazi’s involvement in the terror cell emerged during a ‘control order’ hearing at the High Court in London in 2011.
One of the cell members, referred to only as CE, challenged the order restricting his activities, but it was upheld after security chiefs expressed fears he would return to the UK.
Pictured is an excerpt of one of the emails Jihadi John sent to Mail on Sunday reporter Robert Verkaik
During the hearing it emerged that the intelligence officer given the job of investigating Emwazi’s cell was inexperienced, having been with MI5 less than two years. Identified as AG, the officer was criticised for failing to read all the secret documents before the case was heard.
The judge also said AG was not aware of key details relating to control orders, which have since been scrapped, concerning members of the network. Last night, Labour said the Coalition should never have eroded security chiefs’ powers to restrict the activities of dangerous extremists.
Sources said Mr Cameron will use a report from Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee to give GCHQ and other security services more freedom to monitor terror suspects’ electronic communications.
HOW I MET STUDENT WITH WARPED SENSE OF JUSTICE, by Robert Verkaik
I met Jihadi John, or student Mohammed Al-Zuhary as he called himself then in December 2010, while I was investigating his claims that he was being harassed by the Metropolitan Police and MI5.
Like many young Muslim men at the time, he appeared to have a grievance. But this man was different – in him was a warped sense of injustice that could never justify the barbaric acts of murder that he has gone on to carry out in Syria.
He seemed to have a persecution complex and desperately wanted his story to be told. When he sold his laptop on the internet, he was convinced it had been purchased by the security services. His concerns seemed to border on paranoia.
He sent me the complaint that he had submitted to the Independent Police Complaints Commission setting out his allegations against police officers when he was held at Heathrow after returning from Kuwait earlier in the year.
Throughout all our dealings, he was polite and appeared to understand the pressures of journalism. But he refused to provide a picture to accompany the story and we lost contact.
In 2009 I was contacted by a group of young Muslim men from north London who all claimed to have experienced harassment at the hands of MI5.
They were mostly of Somali origin and variously alleged they had been interrogated at airports, had their travel plans disrupted and their private lives invaded.
When the Independent published their story with their pictures it encouraged other members of Britain’s Muslim community to come forward, including Mohamed Emwazi.
It was never possible to know whether the alleged harassment was justified as the police and MI5 will not discuss the intelligence upon which they were working.
One of the North London men whom I originally spoke to, Madhi Hashi, is now in prison in America on serious charges of terrorism connected to the Somali terror group Al Shabaab.
Other members of Emwazi’s cell include Ibrahim Magag, a Somali-born former train conductor from London involved in arranging ‘financial support for Al Qaeda’. Magag was put under a control order to stop him fleeing overseas to join a jihad. But on Boxing Day 2012 he vanished. Officials believe he went to join British jihadis in East Africa.
Meanwhile CE, an Iranian, was prevented from attending prayers at a named community centre and banned from using the internet at home.
It was CE along with Mohammed Ezzouek and Hamza Chentouf who attended the Al Qaeda camp in Somalia led by Harun Fazul, suspected of involvement in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in East Africa. On his return to Britain, CE was tasked with recruiting others to join Al Qaeda and the Islamist militant group, Al Shabaab.
The court document also reveals that among Emwazi’s network was a terrorist who the security services regarded as the leader and radicalising influence of the group.
Bilal Berjawi was a senior Al Shabaab commander who MI5 had questioned in 2009 over plans to blow up a Kenyan shopping centre. Emwazi, Berjawi and a third Al Shabaab terrorist from London, Mohamed Sakr, all travelled to Tanzania in 2009 in what they said was a safari holiday. But they were stopped by security services who believed they intended to attend terrorist training in Somalia.
Berjawi and Sakr would later return to Somalia where they both gained reputations as hardened fighters before being killed in American drone strikes in 2012.
Intelligence officers believe Berjawi may also have known the July 21 bombers, who attempted to blow up London Underground targets two weeks after 7/7 in 2005.
Investigators believe that Emwazi, who was 18 at the time, almost certainly came into contact with the same group at some point before or after the failed suicide bombings.
Emwazi attended two meetings in February 2010 at CE’s West London flat where they were accused of discussing ‘Islamic extremist activity.’
As early as January 2007 three of the group, CE, Mohammed Ezzouek and Hamza Chentouf found themselves among a refugee convoy fleeing Somalia after US air strikes on Islamists who had seized Mogadishu. It was reported that they were captured by SAS soldiers across the border in Kenya and handed to its authorities for questioning.
The Britons ended up being sent back to Somalia, before a plane was chartered to airlift them out at an estimated cost of £50,000. Both Ezzouek and Chentouf, who deny terrorism, claimed they were innocents abroad in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Back in London, friends also say that Emwazi was close to a gang that robbed wealthy residents on the streets of Belgravia, Central London, using stun guns. Two of the gang are said to have later travelled to Syria a year before Emwazi, and were subsequently killed.