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An English-speaking militant called ‘John’

Author: Narayan Lakshman
Publication: The Hindu
Date: August 21, 2014
URL: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/an-englishspeaking-militant-called-john/article6335889.ece?homepage=true

Authorities appeared to be closing in on the identity of the distinctly British-accented Islamic State militant behind U.S. journalist James Foley’s murder.

 Details supplied by former IS hostages seemed to suggest that the man, who called himself “John,” was the “ringleader” of three British jihadists who were apparently the guards of foreign nationals in Raqqa, a trio known as “The Beatles.”

The Guardian reported that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), along with Britain’s MI5 and Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism command, was on Wednesday night “racing to identify the militant who fronted the propaganda video that showed the brutal murder of Foley,”. “John” was also described by former IS captives as a “point-man” for hostage negotiations in Raqqa, where he apparently conducted discussions with several families of jailed foreign nationals via the Internet.

London English

 Some linguistics experts, meanwhile, analysed his accent closely and determined that the man spoke in “multicultural London English,” most commonly found in London’s East End, and used by people from a range of different backgrounds.

 Dr. Claire Hardaker, a linguistics experts at Lancaster University, studied the clip and said the man’s vowels marked him out as likely from the south-east of England, but most likely from London. “We’re definitely looking at a British accent, from the south, and probably from London, Kent or Essex.”

 His case exemplifies one of the first instances of an English-speaking militant chosen to front the videoed killing of a Western journalist, which experts said was aimed at causing maximum impact among the U.S. and its allies.

 Professor Peter Neumann, Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London, told The Guardian, “This is significant because it signifies a turn towards threatening the west. They are saying we're going to come after you if you bomb us.”

There are said to be approximately 500 British-born jihadists, or “home-grown terrorists,” who travel from the U.K. to fight in Syria or Iraq.
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