US reasonably certain 'Jihadi John' is dead

US reasonably certain 'Jihadi John' is dead
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The U.S. is “reasonably certain” it killed the terrorist known as "Jihadi John" with an airstrike on Thursday night.

“We are reasonably certain that we killed the target that we intended to kill, which is 'Jihadi John,' " Army Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing. 

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Warren said a U.S. drone strike hit a car believed to be carrying Mohammed Emwazi, the English-speaking militant seen in videos released by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Another man whom Warren referred to as Emwazi’s “best friend” was also in the car.

Emwazi is shown killing hostages from the U.S. and other countries in several gruesome videos released by the terrorist group.

Some news reports say the man traveling with Emwazi might have been another Briton who worked to detain hostages. The group of terrorists from Britain had been dubbed “the Beatles.”

At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters he could not confirm whether the strike killed Emwazi.
 
President Obama was briefed on the strike Thursday. The operation was “consistent” with other strikes against top ISIS figures and did not require the president’s approval to execute, Earnest said. 
 
The spokesman described Emwazi as a major figure in the group who helped craft strategy and recruit foreign fighters.
 
"He was a target worth going after," Earnest said.

Warren said it would take some time to be 100 percent sure that Emwazi was killed in the strike and that, if confirmed, his death would represent a major victory in the fight against ISIS.

“This is significant, of course, because 'Jihadi John' was somewhat of an ISIL celebrity, if you will,” Warren said, using another acronym for the group. 

Emwazi was “kind of the face of the organization in many senses, so there is certainly I think a significant blow to their prestige,” he said. 

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffKey House committee obtains subpoenaed Trump financial documents from two banks: report Judge delivers second blow to Trump over financial records Schiff goes after Barr: He lacks Giuliani's 'good looks and general likability' MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Friday he thought the death was "an important milestone."

"It sends a message, you take the lives of Americans, we are going to come after you. We will be patient, we will be methodical, but we will get you," he said on MSNBC. 

"And frankly, if he died in an instant and was incinerated, it was a better death than he deserved. This is someone who killed members of the press, human aid workers with no remorse in the most grotesque fashion," Schiff added. 

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday called Emwazi ISIS's "lead executioner" said the British had been working with the U.S. "literally around the clock to track him down." 

"Emwazi is a barbaric murderer. He was shown in those sickening videos of the beheadings of British aid workers. He posed an ongoing and serious threat to innocent civilians not only in Syria, but around the world, and in the United Kingdom too," Cameron said. 

"He was ISIL’s lead executioner, and let us never forget that he killed many, many, Muslims too. And he was intent on murdering many more people. So this was an act of self-defence. It was the right thing to do," he continued.

Emwazi appeared in videos showing the murders of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, Japanese citizens Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning. 

Warren called the strike a “fairly routine [high value individual] strike.”

The U.S. has killed on average one mid- to upper-level ISIS leader every two days since May.

Jordan Fabian contributed.
 
This story was updated at 2:18 p.m.