By Mark Ellis
A 24-year-old British rapper from west London is one of three prime suspects in the gruesome execution of journalist James Foley by ISIS extremists.
Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, known as Jihadi John, travelled to Syria last year from his $1.8 million home in west London, where he lived with his mother Ragaa and his five siblings, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. He is the son of one of Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenants.
His father, Egyptian-born refugee Adel Abdul Bary, awaits trial in New York over his alleged role in embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. He had been granted political asylum in Britain in 1991 after fleeing Egypt, according to The Herald.
Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary was only six when his father was first arrested and taken away from their London home.
His anger over the loss of his father may have played into the lyrics of some of his rap songs, such as The Beginning:
“Give me the pride and the honor like my father. I swear the day they came and took my dad, I could have killed a cop or two and I wouldn’t look back,” he sang. He also rapped under the names L Jinny or Lyricist Jinn.
“Imagine back then I was only six, just picture what I’d do now with a loaded stick. Like boom bang fine, I’d be wishing you were dead. Violate my brothers and I’m filling you with lead.”
The radicalized rapper achieved a modicum of success in Britain, where his singles played on BBC Radio 1,
prior to his flight to Syria.
Bary is one of three British jihadists referred to by former hostages as the Beatles, because of their British accents. The two other Britons suspected of involvement are Aine Davis, a former drug dealer who converted to Islam, and Razul Islam, who is believed to have joined the terrorist group that murdered Foley. The two others were referred to as “George” and “Ringo”, according to The Herald.
Now they are at the center of an international manhunt, with one of them suspected of being the masked ISIS radical who carried out the gruesome beheading of American journalist James Foley. They are thought to be in the ISIS capital of Raqqa, Syria, according to The Daily Mail.
Bary became the focus of international attention this year when he posted a Twitter photo of himself holding a severed head. “Chillin’ with my homie or what’s left of him,” he wrote on his Twitter account, which was deactivated.
Friends say Bary grew increasingly radical and violent after mixing with people linked to radical Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary, who lives in northeast London.
Choudary is one of the founders of Islam4UK, which, according to its website, was “established by sincere Muslims as a platform to propagate the supreme Islamic ideology within the United Kingdom as a divine alternative to man-made law,” and to “convince the British public about the superiority of Islam […] thereby changing public opinion in favor of Islam in order to transfer the authority and power […] to the Muslims in order to implement the Sharia in Britain.”
In 2013, Bary announced he had turned his back on music because he had “left everything for the sake of Allah,” according to The Herald.
He changed his Twitter name to Soldier of Allah and posted a number of photographs online of himself posing with guns, while he also praised al-Qaeda founder Bin Laden. He also wrote: “Oh Allah, grant us martyrdom.”
Recordings of his voice will be important to the investigation team, with experts using voice recognition technology to provide a match with the person who decapitated Foley.
Sir Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to the US, said that security services were close to identifying the murderer.