Ghania Emwazi realised that the the knife-wielding executioner who appeared in video showing murder of US journalist James Foley was her son Mohammed.
The mother of Mohammed Emwazi knew instantly he was Jihadi John when he first appeared in front of the cameras in the murder of American journalist James Foley after recognising his voice, Kuwaiti investigators have been told.
screamed “that’s my son” as the knife-wielding executioner made a speech in English while standing behind Mr Foley moments before beheading him last August.
But she did not tell the authorities, it has emerged.
Mr Foley, 40, was the first of at least five Western hostages of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant thought to have been executed at the hands of Mohammed Emzawi, who grew up in London.
Western media revealed last week that British and US intelligence had established that the killer was Emwazi, causing widespread shock and dismay inKuwait, the Arab Gulf kingdom, where he was born.
But it emerged on Monday that Emwazi’s parents had been aware of their son’s activities for months after realising that his was the voice on the video, according to testimony given to Kuwaiti police by his father, Jassem, 51.
Mr Emwazi Snr was questioned along with one of his sons for most of the day on Sunday after being summoned by police.
“The mother recognised the voice and she screamed ‘that is my son’ while he was talking before beheading the first American hostage,” a source familiar with the Kuwaiti investigation said. “When they played the video again, the father was sure it was his son.”
Insiders described Mr Emwazi as “emotional and upset at what had happened to his son” while talking to investigators.
“I am waiting day-by-day to hear about his death,” he is said to have told his interrogators.”
Mr Emwazi – who now lives in Al-Oyoun, a neighbourhood near Taima, about 20 miles outside Kuwait City – said he last had contact with his son in 2013, shortly before he travelled to Turkey. He is said to have told his parents that he planned to move to Syria to “deliver aid”.
The father, who holds British citizenship like his son, is understood to be employed by a Co-op supermarket in Kuwait. But workers there said he only showed up every six months in order to renew his Kuwaiti residence permit.
Although Emwazi emigrated to the UK along with his parents and siblings in the 1990s, most members of the family are believed to have moved back to Kuwait, where police kept them under close surveillance following the recent revelations.
The al-Oyoun area was described as a closed zone on Monday.
Mr Emwazi snr is said to have been a Kuwaiti police officer himself, having served from 1980 until 1993. He has been reported by some sources to have left Kuwait after collaborating with Saddam Hussien’s Iraqi forces after they invaded Kuwait in 1990. He gained British citizeship in 2002 and moved back to Kuwait the following year, according to local sources.
The family belongs to a group known as Bedoons (without in Arabic), who do not have full Kuwaiti citizenship and lack full educational and employment rights. Many live in impoverished sprawling neighbourhoods in Taima in ramshackle tumbledown houses.
That setting contrasted sharply with the exclusive neighbourhood of al-Samiya in Kuwait City where Mohammed Emnwzi worked as a trainee IT salesman for three months in 2010.
Office space in the area rents for up to £6,500 per square metre.
Despite his gruesome reputation, Emwazi was a model employee during his probation period who would have landed a permanent job if he had not failed to return from a trip to London in April 2010, the company’s managing director told the Telegraph.
“His record was perfect. We had taken on five trainees in the previous three years and he was the best,” said the managing director, an Egyptian national. “He was very intelligent, polite, well-behaved, a good person. There was no evidence that he had jihadist leanings.
He would leave the office to search for potential customers to sell our products. This was part of his training. He always went with another person, who trained him. There was maybe a week or 10 days left of his trial period when he said he told me in April 2010 that he had to go to London for some familly problems and that he would come back. But he never returned.
“He never talked about politics or religion. He prayed every day in the company prayer room. If he had been a jihadist, I would have expected him to have gone to the local mosque. The only thing he ever said about Britain was that it was expensive and that he travelled to school by bicycle because transport was so expensive.”
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- Jihadi John: Schools being investigated over pupils fighting abroad01 Mar 2015
Source The Telegraph / Robert Tait, in Kuwait City