Washington – Attorney General Eric Holder Friday vowed that the United States would either kill or capture the Islamic State executioner known as Jihadi John.
Speaking with the ABC broadcaster in one of his last television interviews before leaving ofice, Holder was asked whether he could guarantee that the man identified this week as Mohammed Emwazi would face justice.
“The vow that I can make to the American people, along with our allies, is that we will hold accountable all of the people who have been responsible for these heinous, barbaric acts … That is something that we are focused on each and every day,” Holder said.
He echoed the sentiments expressed Thursday by President Barack Obama, who said that “eventually, if you hurt an American, you are going to be brought to justice in some fashion.”
The mystery man known as Jihadi John has always worn a mask in the series of video-broadcast beheadings that gained a high profile beginning in August with the slaughter of US photojournalist James Foley.
Intelligence experts identified the man as having a British accent.
On Thursday, the BBC and Washington Post both reported that the apparent executioner had been identified by name as Mohammed Emwazi of west London, and as someone who was known to British security services.
The revelation has provoked controversy in Britain, where the lawyer responsible for overseeing anti-terrorism laws said it appeared intelligence agencies had made a “slip up” in failing to apprehend him.
But the lawyer, David Anderson, said the slip up was not surprising given the sheer number of suspects they have to deal with.
“There are a lot of people that they are a bit suspicious of, there are hundreds, probably thousands,” he said. “You can‘t round all those people up without a trial and declare that they are subject to some form of house arrest.”
The Kuwaiti-born Emwazi, a graduate in his mid-20s, had been questioned by British security services several times, and complained to a London-based rights group of alleged abuses by security agents, other reports said.
The London-based rights group, CAGE, said Emwazi first contacted it in mid-2009, following his deportation with two friends from Tanzania, where he said he had planned to go on a safari.
Security agents accused him of planning to travel from Tanzania to Somalia to join the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab group.