KUWAIT (Reuters) - A lawyer representing the father of a man identified as the masked killer in Islamic State beheading videos said on Sunday Western officials had presented no proof his client’s son was the so-called “Jihadi John”.
U.S. media and government sources have said the black-clad militant who apparently decapitated hostages including Americans, Britons and Syrians in the videos had been named as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwait-born Londoner.
But Salem al-Hashash, a lawyer who represents Jassim Emwazi, denied his client’s son was the same person who appeared in the Islamic State videos and was dubbed “Jihadi John” by western analysts because of his fluent English.
“We would like to point out that until now, the Western intelligence services have not provided sufficient evidence that Mohammed Emwazi is the same as Jihadi John,” Hashash told journalists in Kuwait City.
“There are many rumors, stories and untrue tales that have been broadcast by various media and on social media about my client, Jassim Emwazi,” he said. “I want to inform you that all of these are not true and are figments of the imagination of some of the journalists and their irresponsible sources.”
He said he had initiated court cases against all those he said had defamed his client and that they would be questioned.
Hashash, who took no questions at the news conference, provided no names or any further details.
He concluded the press conference by saying he had decided to stop representing Jassim Emwazi, a resident of Kuwait, citing “special reasons” that he did not clarify.
Mohammed Emwazi’s name was first disclosed by the Washington Post, citing unidentified former associates. Two U.S. government sources who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed to Reuters that investigators believed he was Jihadi John.
He was born in Kuwait but moved to Britain aged 6 and graduated with a computer programming degree from the University of Westminster.
Reporting by Ahmed Hagagy; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Tom Heneghan