Unlike al Qaeda, where Osama Bin Laden became the public figurehead, ISIS has largely been without a face. Though we know that the group is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, he is scarcely more than a name and some old photographs. Unlike Bin Laden, who sought the limelight, al-Baghdadi has remained in the shadows while his army of terrorists carries out their despicable deeds.
One of these terrorists – a masked man with a British accent – has become the default face of the Islamic State. As the chosen spokesman for many of the group’s most heinous videos, the man who came to be called Jihadi John was the closest we could get to a real life human being behind all the murder and destruction. Now the ISIS executioner is even more accessible; according to several reports, he has been identified as British citizen Mohammed Emwazi.
If it is Emwazi, his background runs counter to some of the rhetoric we’ve heard from Obama administration spokespeople like Marie Harf. Far from a jobless loser in search of something to do with his life, Emwazi is a college graduate from a well-off London family. With a degree in computer programming, Emwazi is hardly the picture of a desperate Muslim with few life options.
Because the same reports that have outed Emwazi have also acknowledged that he was on the British intelligence community’s radar before joining ISIS, it was at least suspected that he had become radicalized before the first videos appeared. Though no intelligence agencies or governments have yet officially confirmed the identity of Jihadi John, several insiders have admitted anonymously that he’s the guy.
Until Emzawi is killed or brought to justice, the matter of his identity is of little importance. What is important, however, is that by bringing him out into the light, we expose this myth that the Obama administration is trying to perpetuate about this group of extremists. Because they need another angle to take the religious identification away from ISIS, they have characterized the group’s strength as owing to Middle Eastern poverty. One exception does not kill a theory, but where is Obama’s proof to back up his own claims?
ISIS is not successful in their recruiting because there are so many down and desperate Muslims lacking only gainful employment to make their lives complete. It is successful because of the very thing Obama wants most to deny: their brand of vicious, intolerant Islam. Admitting that doesn’t give them legitimacy or respect. It doesn’t drag anti-terrorism Muslims through the mud. It simply acknowledges the facts. And it stops us from coming up with cockamamie, politically-correct schemes to defeat this enemy. This is not a schoolyard bully who just needs a little more love. This is a cancer, and there is only one cure.