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U.S. airstrikes kill 'Jihadi John,' British man in beheading videos

By Shawn Price
The Islamic State militant known as "Jihadi John" is believed to have been killed in a drone strike near Raqqa, Syria, Pentagone officials said Thursday. He was seen and heard speaking with a British accent in several videos in which Western captives are murdered. Screenshot from Islamic State
The Islamic State militant known as "Jihadi John" is believed to have been killed in a drone strike near Raqqa, Syria, Pentagone officials said Thursday. He was seen and heard speaking with a British accent in several videos in which Western captives are murdered. Screenshot from Islamic State

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- A U.S. airstrike in Syria has likely killed the British Islamic State militant known as "Jihadi John," Pentagon officials said.

A drone strike carried out near Raqqa, Syria, has given Pentagon officials a "high degree of certainty" the militant was hit and killed.

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"Jihadi John" is believed to be Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British militant who was seen and heard speaking with a British accent in videos in which Western captives were beheaded.

Officials said getting Emwazi was a mission of "persistent surveillance" and that he was "tracked carefully over a period of time."

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Emwazi is believed to have left Britain for Syria in 2013 and at some point after joined IS militants.

First appearing in the video of the killing of U.S. journalist James Foley last August, he was also in seen in the videos in which U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, British aid worker David Haines, American aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig and British taxi driver Alan Henning were beheaded. He appears in a black robe with a black balaclava covering his face each time.

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Emwazi is described by analysts as a sadistic torturer. A former hostage who survived his ordeal said Emwazi made him dance the tango with him.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron called the strike an act of "self defense."

"It was the right thing to do," he said Friday speaking outside 10 Downing Street.

Though Cameron said Emwazi's death has not been confirmed, military officials wouldn't be announcing the incident had they not been sure of the mission's success.

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