Unmasking Jihadi John is a 2019 HBO documentary about the British man who beheaded 15 journalists in 2014 and 2015 on film as part of ISIS’s video propaganda campaign.
10 out of 10 stars. Beautifully done with great reverence to the men who died.
Most people don’t know the name Mohammed Emwazi. He was a Kuwait born man who immigrated to England in 1993 when he was six years old and became a British citizen. His mother was Yemeni and his father was a cop. But in England his dad became a cab driver.
The documentary includes interviews with many of his school teachers. When he was younger he wanted to be a Manchester United football player (rugby). He was always a follower, never a leader. Then when he reached puberty he had very bad breath and was constantly ridiculed for it. He wasn’t rude or aggressive and he loved computers. When he reached his teen years that all changed. He became a party animal, defiant to authority figures, and extremely aggressive. He was easily influenced by older men and joined a gang.
At the same time that Emwazi was growing up, a man named Al Badri was building ISIS in Iraq. He was a bookworm and friend of Zarqawi, one of the 911 architects, who changes his name to Al Baghdadi. Zarqawi came up with the idea of suicide bombers and Baghdadi recruited for his vision. The two of them met at Camp Bucca, a detainee camp for suspected terrorists in Iraq. Baghdadi recruited ISIS members from this camp until he was eventually released because he was no longer a suspect. When Zarqawi and Al-Qaeda were killed and destroyed he formed his own group which later became ISIS.
In 2006, Emwazi was in college. He met Mohammed Sakr who was three years older than him. Sakr recruited him into ISIS. Bilal Al Berjawi, Sakr’s friend, was even more charismatic than Sakr, and Emwazi is so enthralled with Berjawi that he ignores all of his old friends and embraces Islam.
This group of recruits goes to Somalia. In 2009 they go to Tanzania and to Dar Es Salaam where Emwazi is arrested and beaten. He finally decides to go to Amsterdam where he is questioned by MI5, England’s version of the CIA. He is angry when he’s forwarded to Dover. In Dover he is again questioned by MI5 who believe him to be a terrorist and attempt to recruit him. Emwazi tells his ISIS friends and they immediately elevate his position in the group to jihadist.
Baghdadi sends a man named Al Julani to create a jihadist group in Syria. Julani creates one of the largest terrorist groups in history. They spread into Iraq and call themselves ISIS. They line up hundreds of Iraqi soldiers and execute them.
At the same time in 2009, Emwazi’s fiance is questioned by MI5. She cancels their marriage and walks away from him. So Emwazi and Berjawi go around London recruiting men and money. Then Emwazi moves to Kuwait and gets a job working with computers. He meets a girl and they become engaged. Before long he gets a really bad toothache and must fly back and forth between London and Kuwait for dentist appointments. While he’s in London, Kuwait discovers his terrorist ties and refuses to let him back into the country. They talk to his new fiance who discovers he’s a terrorist and promptly dumps him. Now he’s been dumped twice.
Emwazi sits down with a journalist and tells his story of why he hates England. But before publication he backs out of the story. In 2012 his friends, Berjawi and Sakr are killed in an air strike and Emwazi escapes the United Kingdom.
Thanksgiving 2012, American journalist Jim Foley is captured by ISIS along with several other journalists. Within 24 hours there are 70,000 Syrian refugees fleeing the border. David Haines, a reporter who is interviewing refugees in Syria is kidnapped by ISIS and added to their list of captive westerners.
In 2012, Emwazi is recruited by Al Shishani, a Chechen warlord who invites him to Syria. Emwazi and Shishani come under the control of the Emir of Aleppo, Amr Al Absi, a seasoned terrorist. They begin taking hostages all across Syria including westerners who Emwazi hates.
The reporters are all gathered together and notice quickly that three of the terrorists stick together and have British accents. They nickname them the Beatles. Emwazi is nicknamed Jihadi John. He’s their leader and decides who is punished and how they are punished. He collects the proofs of life they use to try to blackmail the UK and US and victims’ families into giving them money. George is the punisher. He is violent and brutal and enjoys inflicting pain. Ringo is the preacher of the three, more religious. Emwazi regularly orders the journalists tortured.
Jim Foley and John Cantlie were prisoners in the same block. They could hear other western reporters being tortured and those other reporters could hear them screaming as they were tortured. Within months the reporters are emaciated and skeletons, but Emwazi orders four of them put into a cage and they are ordered to fight each other. They collapse from exhaustion.
In July 2014, Baghdadi calls for all Islam across the world to come to Syria through a series of propaganda videos that are posted on YouTube. They even have videos geared toward children. They make Syrian look like a farming community and so naive Muslims flock to Syria, shocked to find themselves in the middle of a junkyard in a desert.
By now there are 19 reporters held captive in one cell. There is barely room to lie down and they are on top of each other. Then Emwazi parades them into a room where they are videotaped. Outraged by the videos, troops force them out of Aleppo and they flee to Raqqa after killing 300 prisoners. They take the 19 reporters with them.
Al Absi is put in charge of the media and he uses the prisoners for their propaganda films. They let the four French reporters go, but they keep the other 15 western reporters. Among the four reporters released are Frederico Motka and Nicholas Henin who give their account throughout the documentary.
On August 19, 2014, American reporter James Foley is forced to recite a propaganda piece about the evil of the United States government before he is beheaded by Mohammed Emwazi on videotape. This tape is immediately uploaded to YouTube, the first of many.
On September 2, 2014, the same thing is done to Steven Sotloff.
On September 13, 2014, the same thing is done to David Haines.
On October 3, 2014, the same thing is done to Alan Henning.
On November 16, 2014, the same thing is done to Peter Kassig.
On January 31, 2015, Japanese reporters Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa are beheaded by Mohammed Emwazi on video and the video is uploaded to YouTube.
Immediately after that, Emwazi puts a captured Jordanian pilot, Muath Al Kasasbeh, in a cage and lights him on fire while he is alive. This is expressly forbidden in the Quran and Islamic faith. There is no exception. That turns the tide against ISIS. Now the Muslim community hates ISIS.
Emwazi is immediately added to the target list for a drone strike. They follow him around and learn that he has two ISIS wives and two children. On November 12, 2015 he drives to a field where executions are carried out at night. There are no civilians around so the drone strike is ordered. He is killed.
The last two terrorists who are part of the Beatles three are still being held in Northern Syria. They’ve never been held accountable for the murders or other atrocities they’ve committed. Their names are Alexanda Kotey and Al Shafee Elsheikh.
Baghdadi still leads ISIS.
10 out of 10 stars. I’m appalled that the UK and US governments have not demanded the extradition of the last two terrorists who tortured and beheaded 15 western journalists. Why not?