U.S. and British intelligence officials know the identity of the Islamic State militant seen in the now-infamous video of journalist James Foley’s beheading and are closing in on a dozen members of the jihadist’s support network in the U.K., according to a published report.
The Daily Mirror reported Monday that U.S. intelligence analysts have used facial recognition technology to provide an image of the militant known as “John” based solely on the man’s eyes.
“We are 99.9 percent certain now as to who ‘John’ is,” an American source told the paper, “but investigators have had to tread softly in charting and approaching his wider network in the U.K.” British intelligence officials told the paper that they would reveal the man’s true identity “within days.”
“John” came to global prominence in the video depicting Foley’s beheading that was released on August 19. Speaking in a British accent with a distinct London inflection, “John” addressed President Barack Obama, saying that Foley’s death was in response to airstrikes carried out by the U.S. against Islamic State, also known as ISIS, in Iraq.