'Jihadi John' ISIS Militant Targeted in U.S. Airstrike

The Islamic State (ISIS) militant Mohammed Emwazi also known as "Jihadi John", was targeted in a U.S. airstrike on Thursday, according to the Pentagon. The attack occurred in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa—the de-facto capital of ISIS's caliphate—though it is not yet clear whether Emwazi was killed in the strike. Speaking to the BBC an unnamed U.S. official said he believed "with a high degree of certainty" that Emwazi had been hit.

Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British citizen, featured in ISIS videos showing the executions of U.S. journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, the U.S. aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known as Peter, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and those of several other hostages.

A U.S. official told the BBC that the strike was on a vehicle, believed to be carrying Emwazi, who they have been tracking "for a period of time." Speaking to the Associated Press, a U.S. official said a drone was used to target the vehicle.

Officials believe that Emwazi arrived in Syria in 2013, before later joining ISIS. He first appeared in a video showing the beheading of James Foley in August 2014. In the video and the ones that followed he was shown dressed in a black robe with a black balaclava covering his face. Emwazi was publicly identified in February 2015.

The nickname "Jihadi John" originated from a group of his hostages who called Emwazi, and three other militants with British accents "The Beatles". The hostages called Emwazi "John" after the band's lead singer John Lennon.

The Pentagon has said it will release additional information on the strike "as and where appropriate." A spokeswoman for the U.K. government told the Guardian they were aware of the strike but not commenting further.