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US sources claim 'Jihadi John' dead after drone strike

The Pentagon has said it is not clear he was killed but defence sources say they’re 99% sure.

US DEFENCE SOURCES have said they are “99% sure” a drone strike has killed British Islamic State militant Jihadi John.

The militant, whose real name is Mohammed Emwazi, has featured in a number of videos in which Western hostages were beheaded. These included US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, aid workers Adbul-Rahman Kassig, David Haines and Alan Henning and Japanese tourist Kenji Goto.

Though Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said it was not clear whether Emwazi had been killed in the strike, a senior defence official told Fox News: “We are 99% sure we got him. We were on him for some time.”

A source also told ABC News that the operation had been “flawless” and a “clean hit”.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said officials are not certain whether the strike killed Emwazi.

He said the strike had been a joint effort and that British intelligence agencies were working around the clock to find the British-accented militant, whom he called the militant group”s “lead executioner.”

Cameron also said the US strike had been “an act of self-defence” and the right thing to do. He said targeting Emwazi was “a strike at the heart” of the Islamic State group.

Following news of the strike, the mother of victim Steven Sotloff told NBC news that even if the militant had been killed “it doesn’t bring my son back”.

Who knows if he’s gone. I don’t think there will ever be closure.

“Sadistic and merciless”

Jihadi John” was six years old when his family moved to London. He grew up in North Kensington, a middle-class area where a network of Islamist extremists was uncovered in recent years.

As a child, he was a fan of Manchester United football club and the band S Club 7, according to a 1996 school year book published by The Sun. He later went on to study information technology at the University of Westminster.

Court papers published by British media connected Emwazi to a network of extremists known as “The London Boys” that were originally trained by al-Shabab, Al-Qaeda’s East Africa affiliate.

One hostage who fell under Emwazi’s control in the IS group’s hub in Raqa talked of a “cold, sadistic and merciless” killer.

- With reporting from AFP and Associated Press. 

Read: ‘Feel it? Cold, isn’t it?’ – Jihadi John caressed hostage’s neck with knife blade>

Read: Mother of ‘Jihadi John’ says she recognised son’s voice in hostage videos>

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