Who is the British-born rapper suspected to be James Foley's executioner?
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, August 25, 2014 12:25PM EDT
A picture is emerging of the rapper-turned-militant who is the prime suspect in the beheading of journalist James Foley.
While British officials have said they are close to identifying the man seen in a video of Foley’s killing, a senior government source told The Sunday Times that the main suspect is Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary. The 23-year-old is reportedly known to fellow militants as “Jihadi John,” and he and other British-born militants are nicknamed “the Beatles.”
Bary was an up-and-coming rapper in London’s “grime” music scene before leaving the United Kingdom last year to fight with Islamic militants in Syria, according to local news reports.
Bary recently tweeted a picture of himself holding a severed head, and previous tweets have shown him holding various weapons and dressed in military gear.
Britain’s ambassador to the U.S. told CNN on Sunday that officials are “not far away” from identifying the man seen in the video of Foley’s killing. Officials are using voice recognition technology to compare the voice on the video with recordings of voices that have made ransom demands for hostages on behalf of the Islamic State militant group.
But with Bary’s name being at the top of the suspect list, here’s a look at what we know of the rapper-turned-militant.
Like father, like son?
Bary is the son of Abdel Abdul Bary, an Egyptian national who is currently facing charges in the U.S. for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The attacks killed 224 people.
Bary senior, who is in his mid-fifties, was extradited to the U.S. in 2012 and has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges. His trial is expected to begin later this year.
Counter-terrorism officials allege that Bary was a senior al Qaeda operative who ran a terror cell in London on behalf of bin Laden.
Bary faces life in prison if convicted.
Before walking out of his family’s West London home, which the British media report is worth nearly C$2million, Bary reportedly told his parents that he was “leaving everything for the sake of Allah.”
Up to then, however, Bary was known as Lyricist Jinn, or L Jinny, a young artist in London’s rap scene. His music was broadcast on the BBC’s Radio 1.
The younger Bary lived with his mother, Ragaa, in the neighbourhood of Maida Vale, the Daily Mail reported late last year, when images of Bary dressed as a militant began appearing online.
Reports suggest Bary had become disillusioned over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is believed to have joined several friends fighting in Syria.