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What happened to the “beautiful man” that became Jihadi John?

What happened to the “beautiful man” that became Jihadi John?

Most humans, irrelevant of race, religion or ideology, would unequivocally condemn the coldblooded murder of innocent people, whether the perpetrator was “Jihadi John”, named yesterday by the Washington Post [1] as Mohammed Emwazi, or the thousands of Iraqis killed in an illegal war led by the US. The problems is, in such a hypersensitive environment of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry [2], many people, intentionally or out of genuine ignorance, assume that the default position of Muslims is one which condones violence, hatred and extremism. Consequently, Muslims are then expected to demystify this gross assumption by endlessly condemning crimes committed by a minority.


Jihadi John’s route to violence needs intelligent analysis not emotional rhetoric By Ayshah Syed

The Jihadi John CAGE UK press conference they don’t want you to see [VIDEO]

Muslims living in the West have been condemning acts of terrorism since 9/11; in fact they’ve become an expert community at it [3]. But has this prevented the collective labelling and policy of ‘guilt by association of faith’ that is repeatedly applied whenever a crime is committed by a Muslim? Most certainly not. Such was the case yesterday when advocacy group, CAGE, published email correspondence between the alleged ISIS executioner, and research director Asim Qureshi [4]. During an hour long press conference, Qureshi described Emwazi as a “beautiful young man”, which became the focal point of most news headlines [5]. Unfortunately, the legitimate concerns highlighted by CAGE were lost in a coordinated media frenzy, some outlets overtly accusing the human rights group of being ISIS apologists [6].

Qureshi [7] and media spokesman, Cerie Bulivant [8], explained how Emwazi was harassed by the British security services, and stopped from returning to his birthplace Kuwait, to pursue his career and marry his fiancé. This was dismissed amid the emotional tornado surrounding Jihadi John – and many would argue, rightly so. However, CAGE’s narrative is not one that is unsubstantiated or untested for that matter, a prime example is the killer of British soldier Lee Rigby, Michael Adebolajo. It is public knowledge that the Kenyan authorities had detained Adebolajo at the behest of the MI6, where he was allegedly tortured and sexually abused [9]. In turn, Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered a new inquiry [10] to investigate the security services’ alleged complicity in the treatment of Adebolajo whilst in Kenya.

Neither CAGE nor any ‘Islamist sympathisers’ perceive the MI5’s harassment of Adebolajo and Emwazi as the defining reason for their criminal acts. Rather it is an undeniable fact that at the very least, it was a contributing factor to the radicalisation of both men. The difference between ‘sole’ and ‘partial’ blame must be distinguished, be it the security services’ negligence in preventing these crimes when the individuals were already known to them; or excessively harassing the culprits as part of their ‘counter-terrorism’ strategy. Ultimately, the wider picture would include legitimate foreign policy grievances, mistreatment by the security service, exposure to a fringe interpretation of Islam, as well as psychological issues, which can lead to exceptional cases such as that of Adebolajo and Emwazi. This was the differentiation that the British press failed to address.

The factual account of Qureshi’s relationship with Emwazi, and the issues that the Kuwaiti-born Londoner expressed should have been taken seriously from a national security perspective. Emails sent to Qureshi showed that Emwazi exhausted every possible avenue, which a democratic state has to offer to overcome the supposed hardships he was facing. When interviewing two former university friends of Emwazi, they echoed the same sentiments as Qureshi. They said that during his three years at Westminster University, Emwazi was a “kind, compassionate and understanding person”. Both friends were in absolute shock after hearing Thursday’s revelation in how their good friend, who they spent late nights at the library working on projects, became an ISIS poster boy for killing western hostages.

It is inevitable that the Western world is still recovering from the horrific images of British aid workers and American journalists being beheaded in orange jump suits, by a masked executioner with a London accent. But as difficult as it may be, there must be a genuine attempt in creating a nuanced approach to understand what leads individuals like Adebolajo and Emwazi to resort to such extreme measures. This does not mean that domestic anti-terror policies, foreign policy grievances, ‘jihadist’ ideology, and socioeconomic factors should be exclusively blamed, or over amplified in isolation. All these factors have to be taken into consideration holistically when trying to protect lives.

This cannot be achieved if the higher echelons within the Western political establishment, and pro-war industry continue their imperialistic policies to advance their ideological, and economic interests in the Muslim world. Similarly, those who hijack religion by adopting the militant secular principle of ‘total war’, without any consideration for contracts of security, and preservation of life, should be equally held to account.

Source: www.islam21c.com


  1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/jihadi-john-the-islamic-state-killer-behind-the-mask-is-a-young-londoner/2015/02/25/d6dbab16-bc43-11e4-bdfa-b8e8f594e6ee_story.html
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dilly-hussain/islamophobia-uk-media_b_6248614.html
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dilly-hussain/the-muslim-blame-game_b_5682830.html
  4. http://www.cageuk.org/article/youre-going-be-followedlife-will-be-harder-you-story-mohammed-emwazi
  5. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2970521/Outrage-group-blames-MI5-radicalising-extremely-kind-Jihadi-John-fled-Syria-kill-people-ISIS.html
  6. Ibid
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X7Cwl8QlUU&feature=youtu.be
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fqENQfjc2c&feature=youtu.be
  9. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10080318/Woolwich-attack-Michael-Adebolajo-was-asked-to-work-for-MI5-claims-friend.html
  10. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/26/david-cameron-orders-new-inquiry-treatment-lee-rigby-murderer-michael-adebolajo

About Dilly Hussain

Dilly Hussain is the deputy editor of British Muslim news site 5Pillars. He is also a political blogger for the Huffington Post and a features writer for Al Jazeera specialising on human rights. He regularly appears on Islam Channel, Russia Today, BBC Look East, BBC South and BBC radio stations discussing Middle East and North African politics, as well as domestic stories concerning British Muslims.


  1. It is known in the West, that politics-of-fear has being used over the last decade and half as a tool to implement changes in privacy laws and to coerce the people of the land to support international activities. Now it seems strategically by a set of cooperating Western politicians, Israeli organisations and Middle East self-made kings and dictators to serve their interests. It is very likely these engineered Islamic looking groups like Isis are ierarchical tools created by the enemies of Islam for this purpose.

    God fearing Muslims, beautiful or ugly, should be able to differentiate between right and wrong. How many Muslims actually believe that Isis’s acts complies with Islamic laws? So let’s drop the support for those who join such a movement and decide to stay. If we start feeling sorry for jihadi joes, next we might consider feeling sorry for Satan’s fall from heaven for his transgression of Gods commandments.

    Of course, jihad is the duty of all Muslims, but must be untaken correctly. Those jihadi joes who joined with good intentions (and we pray that there are many of these) need to distance themselves from such groups which disobey/bend Gods laws. God uses repetition in the Quran to enforce a message. The word “knowledge” is one of the most commonly used words. Pleading ignorance and blindly following commands which go against the laws of God is simply unacceptable.

    Muslims all over need to watch documentaries, which we get in the UK, which explain domestic and foreign policy manipulation strategies like “politics-of-fear”, so that they don’t become mere tools of the enemies of Islam without realising it.

  2. The three Jihadi Muslim girls and the Jihadi John were in a wrong place at a wrong time in a non-Muslim school with non-Muslim teachers during their developmental periods. They suffer from identity crises. They are unable to enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry. They were not radicalised at a non-Muslim school, says principal. But the school with non-Muslim teachers are responsible to create identity crises. Muslim children must be in state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. Why should we be surprised? They have gone through a rotten education system where there is no consequences for anything and they have grown up in a rather pathetic, wet nation with a liberal criminal justice system which actually seems to view law upholding people with pure contempt.

    In Islam there is no commandment to kill people by making such allegations against them. The cartoonists had exercised their freedom of expression, and freedom of expression is totally allowed in Islam. Even during the Prophet’s time there were several instances of ridicule, however the Prophet and his Companions neither punished such persons nor asked anyone to do so. On every occasion of this kind, the Prophet’s Companions always tried to positively disseminate the message of Islam. They never tried to punish these people. The killing of those people who had published the cartoons is a gravely un-Islamic act in the name of Islam.

    Bilingual Muslims children have a right, as much as any other faith group, to be taught their culture, languages and faith alongside a mainstream curriculum. More faith schools will be opened under sweeping reforms of the education system in England. There is a dire need for the growth of state funded Muslim schools to meet the growing needs and demands of the Muslim parents and children. Now the time has come that parents and community should take over the running of their local schools. Parent-run schools will give the diversity, the choice and the competition that the wealthy have in the private sector.

    There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam’s teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society.

    None of 7/7 bombers and British Muslim youths who are in Syria and Iraq are the product of Muslim schools. They are the product of British schooling which is the home of institutional racism with chicken racist native teachers. It is absurd to believe that Muslim schools, Imams and Masajid teach Muslim children anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-western views. It is dangerously deceptive and misleading to address text books and discuss them out of their historical, cultural and linguistic context.

    • What you describe is wishful thinking. But in reality, we Muslims perform acts like we live in an age-of-ignorance.

      We make up around 3-4% of the British population, yet in prisons Muslims make up around 15% of the population. There is something seriously wrong here There is no action plan by an Muslim organisation to gradually address this issue. In reality if there were 3-4% Muslims in prison we should be ashamed. This type of figure is mocking God’s guidance – we are failing badly.

      Then there are the incidents in Rochdale, Rotherham and other towns where Muslims, young and old, abuse young white girls for instant gratification, forgetting that these young white girls are their blood cousins, if they took a moment to think about the Adam and Eve. In fact there is a documentary on Discovery channel or Nat Geo channel called Eve. Scientists sampled mitochondrial DNA for every race on the planet and found we all come from one root mother. These types incidents occur with non Muslim groups but the media latch onto the Muslims because we are the current boogie man. Having said that, Muslims have been given guidance but act like the lowest of lifeforms – whats wrong with us?

      Your message seems to say, non Islamic schooling is bad and Islamic schooling is good. If you were talking about the Golden age of Islam, there would be very few who would argue you with you. But today’s Muslim schools are delivering mixed performance levels – from the best to the worst. In 10th century Cordoba, there are 50 hospitals for 1 million people. They had many pharmacies in the city. There would be a quality controller who would check the consistency of the medicines delivered by each pharmacy. I wonder if the Islamic schools have a quality control system today to check for consistent delivery?

      Also, your assertion that most British schools are racist and the teachers are racists is mainly incorrect. Yes, you will get some schools and teachers who are, but the majority will not be racist. In fact, the reverse seems to be the case, many Muslims seem to be under the impression we are the “chosen people”, therefor superior to non-Muslims. This superiority complex attitude was not advised for us.

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