Unmasking “Jihadi John”

by Jonah Shepp

The UK intelligence agencies claim to have identified the ISIS militant who murdered American journalist James Foley in a video released last week:

According to The Times of London and other sources, “John” is believed to be Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a 23-year-old man from London, who went to Syria to join Islamist forces last year. His father, Adel Abdel Bary, is an Egyptian-born man who is accused of taking part in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. He was extradited from the U.K. to the U.S. in 2012 and is currently awaiting trial. Bary was an aspiring hip-hop artist who performed under the name L Jinny when he still lived in London. His music has even been played on BBC Radio and there are several YouTube videos of his performances online. It’s believed those videos could have been used to match Bary’s voice to the voice of the man in the video of Foley’s beheading.

As Gary Sick put it in an interview the Dish referred to on Friday, “eventually … justice does catch up with these guys”. If Abdel Bary is indeed the man behind the mask, we hope this is the first step toward bringing him to justice.

Now seems like a good time for this small programming note: The Dish has tried to avoid referring to Foley’s murder as an “execution” or to his killer as an “executioner”, because these terms confer some degree of legitimacy on the act. An execution, properly understood, means the killing of an individual by a state within the confines of its laws. This killing clearly violated Iraqi, American, Islamic, and international law, to say nothing of human decency, and construing it as an execution gives the thugs who carried it out too much credit. As for its perpetrator, he is no dispenser of justice, but rather a depraved criminal who killed a man and made a snuff film.

Let’s never lose sight of the fact that these scumbags are criminals, not warriors. And justice can’t catch up with them soon enough.