Intelligence Agencies and investigating officials are close to identifying the English-accented militant who beheaded US journalist James Foley in a video they released last week – and a prime suspect is a British-born rapper who left his parents' million-dollar home last year to fight with the Sunni militants in Syria, various newspapers are reporting.
The British ambassador to the United States, Peter Westmacott, said on Sunday that investigators were using high-tech voice-recognition tools to zero in on the masked IS fanatic who carried out the murder of the US scribe, whose death brought about a sense of collective consternation among Americans and rattled the nerves of officials in Pentagon.
"We are close," Westmacott said on NBC's "Meet the Press,"
"We're not in a position to say exactly who this is, but I think we are close," he reiterated adding that voice-recognition technology was being used to identify the man who appeared in video, and also stressed that the threat of the ISIS militants on the western world goes beyond one killer. Intelligence have estimated that about 500 Britons have joined ISIS, which means the risk of the militants returning to their home country with a plan to launch a terrorist attack has been multiplied.
Meanwhile, British newspapers reported Sunday that officials were looking at several home-grown jihadists as suspects who appeared on the beheading video. The prime suspect is Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a 23-year-old London rapper, who left his million-dollar home last year to fight for the hardliner group and once posted a picture of himself holding a severed head, the New York Daily News has noted.
According to newspapers such as Sunday Times , Bary has been identified as a member of a group of at least three British-born IS fighters known among the jihadist group as "The Beatles" – named after the place they belong to.
Bary – who was recognised simply as "John" according to earlier reports – is one of six children of Abdel Abdul Bary, an Egyptian militant, who is currently facing terrorism charges in connection with Al Qaeda's twin 1998 at the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224, reports suggest.
The Sunday Times reported that MI5 and MI6, Britain's two major intelligence agencies, had identified the man behind the brutal footage released last Tuesday, although his identity had not been made public yet.
Fox News cited an unnamed counterterrorism source as saying the investigation was moving forward and slowly eliminating individuals of interests.
Citing British intelligence sources, The Sunday Mirror, also identified two other members of 'The Beatles' as 20-year-old Abu Hussain al-Britani, who is originally from Birmingham, and 23-year-old Abu Abduallah al-Britani, originally from the county of Hampshire on England's south coast.
The three men known as "John," "George" and "Ringo" have now formed a special kidnapping gang that targets Westerners like Foley, newspapers have added.