White House Says Emwazi Strike Shows U.S. Progress


LONDON — The latest news after officials say a U.S. drone strike targeted a vehicle in Syria believed to be transporting the masked Islamic State militant known as "Jihadi John."

6:30 p.m.

The White House says the airstrike against Mohammed Emwazi is evidence that the U.S. is "making progress" in its campaign to target top-level Islamic State leaders.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says he cannot confirm whether the strike killed the militant known as "Jihadi John." He says the Pentagon has not yet made a final determination.

He says the operation was "consistent" with other operations aimed at top Islamic State leaders. He says President Barack Obama did not personally sign on the strike.

Earnest cast Emwazi as a major figure in the group. He describes Emwazi as a "strategist" and "intimately involved" in Islamic State efforts to use social media to radicalize and recruit followers.


5:15 p.m.

Britain's opposition leader says it would have been better if Mohammed Emwazi had stood trial for his crimes.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said while the death had not been confirmed, "it appears Mohammed Emwazi has been held to account for his callous and brutal crimes."

"However, it would have been far better for us all if he had been held to account in a court of law," he said. "These events only underline the necessity of accelerating international efforts, under the auspices of the UN, to bring an end to the Syrian conflict as part of a comprehensive regional settlement."

Some suggested the comments by Corbyn, a left-winger and peace campaigner, were naive. Labour legislator Ian Austin tweeted: "How do people who think Emwazi should have been put on trial think this could have happened and how many others would he kill in the meantime?"


5 p.m.

The widow of David Haines, a British aid worker killed by Islamic State militants, says the possible death of "Jihadi John" in a U.S. drone strike would have been "too easy for him."

Dragana Haines told The Associated Press in a brief phone interview Friday from her home in Croatia that it would have been much better for the families of the victims if Mohammed Emwazi, believed to be the masked man who beheaded several Western hostages, had faced a trial.

Haines says "I personally would have liked to be able to come to the trial, look him in the face and see what kind of man is that." She adds "it would be more just, this is somehow too easy for him."

The U.S. says the drone strike targeted a vehicle in Syria believed to be carrying Emwazi Thursday.

Haines, whose husband was killed last September, adds Emwazi's possible death "means very little because David is not here with us and there is no way to bring him back.'

She adds "the only positive thing is that he (Emwazi) can no longer harm anyone else."


4:45 p.m.

U.S. military spokesman Steve Warren says officials are "reasonably certain" they have killed the Islamic State militant known as Jihadi John with a Hellfire missile fired from a drone.

Warren says the world is better off without the man believed to have beheaded several Western hostages, whom the spokesman referred to as a human animal.

Warren says the operation was one in a string of targeted attacks on Islamic State leaders. He says the U.S. has killed one mid- to upper-level ISIL leader every two days since May.


4:30 p.m.

The family of an American journalist beheaded by the Islamic State fighter known as "Jihadi John" said a U.S. drone strike targeting the extremist provides little comfort.

Diane and John Foley of New Hampshire, the parents of James Foley, say in a statement released Friday that the U.S. should spend as much effort finding and rescuing hostages as it does hunting down extremists.

James Foley was abducted in Syria on Thanksgiving Day 2012 and not heard from again until a video showing his killing was posted online in August of 2014.

Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, beheaded Foley; officials say an overnight drone strike targeted a vehicle Emwazi rode in but it's not certain if he was killed.


3:45 p.m.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says authorities are "pursuing all avenues" to confirm that the masked Islamic State group member known as "Jihadi John" is dead.

American officials say a U.S. drone strike on Thursday targeted a vehicle in Syria believed to be transporting Mohammed Emwazi, who appeared in several Islamic State beheading videos. Emwazi had lived in Britain and was educated there for years.

Hammond, who was in Prague Friday, said at a news conference British officials believed "the strike was successful" although they could not be sure.

He added Britain works closely with the U.S. on gathering intelligence to pinpoint individuals who threaten national security.

Nov. 13, 2015 1:29 PM EST AP


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