Father of 'Jihadi John' says that 'nothing proves' his son is the IS militant
The father of Mohammed Emwazi – the man thought to be the notorious Islamic State (IS) militant nicknamed "Jihadi John" – has told a Kuwait newspaper that he had doubts about whether his son really is the IS militant.
"There is nothing that proves what is being circulated in the media, especially through video clips and footage, that the accused is my son Mohammed, who is being referred to as the alleged executioner of Daesh (Islamic State)," Jassem Emwazi told the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas.
Emwazi's father, who has travelled to Kuwait reportedly because of media pressure, spoke to the newspaper at what was said to be a secret location.
His comments would seem to contradict earlier statements by Mohammed Emwazi’s parents in which they confirmed that the recordings of "Jihadi John" matched their son’s voice.
"I have a message to the Kuwaiti people that many of the rumours are false," he told the daily.
"Because I felt that some people have believed it, I have assigned a lawyer to defend me and to prove ... that what is being said is untrue," he said.
Jassem Emwasi’s lawyer, Salem al-Hashash, said he would be filing lawsuits against those who made accusations against Jassem and his family, also noting that his client had been held and interrogated for three hours by the Kuwaiti interior ministry.
In spite of the new protestations, various reports have suggested that Jassem Emwazi had long disowned and condemned his son over his decision to join in the IS cause.
While explaining to a colleague, Abu Meshaal, why he had failed to turn up to work at a Cooperative supermarket, Emwazi explained that in 2013 he had spoken to his son who had informed him of his plans.
"He was very emotional and crying the whole time," said Meshaal, according to the Telegraph.
"He said, 'my son is a dog, he is an animal, a terrorist.’ He said he had talked to him a lot trying to persuade him to return to his personal life but that the son didn't listen to him.”
"He said, 'To hell with my son'."
According to Emwazi, Mohammed had called him in order to plead forgiveness from his father and receive his blessing, to which Jassem replied:
"Fuck you. I hope you die before you arrive in Syria."
Jassem Emwazi’s wife, Ghania, is thought to still be living in London, while Emwazi lives in Kuwait with his daughter, Asma and other family members.
Emwazi, described by Meshaal as a "respectable and polite" man, has not reported for work since last Friday.
‘A bad man’
The Emwazis originally moved to London 20 years ago when Mohammed was six.
Though residents of Kuwait, his family were bedoon, belonging to stateless tribes who were not granted citizenship by Kuwait following its independence in 1961.
Other residents of the Emwazis’ hometown of Taima – located in a rundown district of Kuwait City – are reportedly appalled at the negative publicity Mohammed Emwazi has brought to the town.
“Jihadi John is a bad man. But we are a good people,” said one resident of the town.
Varying accounts have arisen of Mohammed Emwazi’s formative years.
A former teacher in London reported that Mohammed had not stood out as a troubled pupil at school and could not have predicted the path he would take.
"He was bullied a little, but because he was quiet and he was reserved ... generally he was fine," said Joanna Shuter, his former headteacher at Quintin Kynaston Community Academy in northwest London.
"There were no massive behaviour problems with him, and by the time he got into...(in his last years) he had settled, he was working hard, he achieved great grades for him, and he went to the university of his choice."
"If there had been any concerns about Mohammed, they would have been picked up, and we would have intervened and tried to support him in any way that we could have done,” she added.
Other former friends have reported that prior to his finding religious piety, Mohammed had drunk alcohol and been a frequent cannabis user.
"He smoked drugs, drank and was violent towards other boys," one former friend told the Sun newspaper, anonymously.
"The fact he portrays himself as a strict Muslim is laughable and shameful. I never saw him pray or wear Islamic dress – he would not even mention religion at all.”
"Being a Muslim myself I was very aware of it at the time. We had a gang and he was very much a part of it – which shows he is a total hypocrite."