The British militant believed to be responsible for the beheadings of Foley and Sotloff is reported to have been known to MI5 before he left the country. He was considered a low-risk target as he worked as a street collector raising funds for legitimate Arab charities. Doubt remains as to whether the British voice on the execution videos – belonging to the ISIS militant called ‘John’ by former captives, as part of a group of four British militants nicknamed ‘The Beatles’ – is that of the person who carried out the killings. It is also suspected that some parts of the videos, including Sotloff’s apparent message to America before he is killed, were faked, however ‘John’ is one of the most wanted among hundreds of UK fighters believed to be operating in Syria and Iraq. A source:
MI5 has identified this man and they have known exactly who he is for some time. He was even being looked at before he travelled abroad. At the time he was considered a very low-level risk because he was merely believed to be making street collections. Like so many jihadists before him, he then seems to have become radicalised almost overnight and disappeared to travel to the Middle East.
The man is thought to have traveled to the Middle East around a year ago, and became battlehardened within months.