An Isis defector claims to have seen the British executioner ‘Jihadi John’ kill Japanese hostage Kenji Goto and says he is employed by the extremist group's media wing as the chief killer of foreign hostages.
The man, known only as "Saleh", spoke to Sky News in Turkey after he fled Syria.
He claimed to have watched Jihadi John, who was unmasked recently in reports as Londoner Mohammed Emwazi, murder Goto “from a little distance”. Militants then allegedly took the body and placed it in a car while the killer left the scene via a different road.
Speaking in broken English, Saleh says Jihadi John was clearly a boss among militants and commanded their respect, perhaps in part because he was so willing to kill foreign hostages.
"The big boss was there with them,” he said. “Turkish man say 'put this camera there, change place there' but John [was] the big boss. All time, all time say to all 'fastly, fastly, fastly, we should finish'. So respect him. Only he talks orders – others do."
He said John’s power was probably because “he used the knife”, a reference to the videos showing the beheadings of journalists and aid workers.
"I cannot understand why he is so strong,” Saleh added. “One man can kill and all people will respect. A Syrian man anyone [in Isis] can kill. But strangers [foreigners], only John."
Saleh also claimed hostages were repeatedly subjected to mock executions, until it became almost routine for them – which may explain why they all appeared calm in videos. He says he was instructed by John to tell them it was all for propaganda purposes and assure them they would not actually be killed.
"He would say to me 'say to them, no problem, only video, we don't kill you, we want from your government [to] stop attacking Syria. We don't have any problem with you; you are only our visitors'.
"So they don't worry. Always I say to them 'don't worry, doesn't matter, nothing dangerous for you. But at the end I was sure [they would die]."
He sent his apology via a third party from Syria to his family, who have been forced into hiding, according to The Sunday Times.
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