8 September 2015, NYT: Britain Says It Killed 3 ISIS Suspects in First Drone Strike in Syria
18 July 2015, NYT: British Pilots Have Been Conducting Airstrikes in Syria, Defense Ministry Confirms
27 February 2015, NYT: 'Jihadi John' From ISIS Execution Videos Was Under Watch by British Intelligence
26 February 2015, WP: 'Jihadi John': Islamic State killer is identified as Londoner Mohammed Emwazi
3 September 2014, NYT: ISIS Says It Killed Steven Sotloff After U.S. Strikes in Northern Iraq
20 August 2014, NYT: Militant Group Says It Killed American Journalist in Syria
30 August 2013, NYT: Britain's Rejection of Syrian Response Reflects Fear of Rushing to Act
1 October 2011, NYT: Two-Year Manhunt Led to Killing of Awlaki in Yemen
NOV. 13, 2015
Pentagon Says 'Jihadi John' Was Probably Killed in Airstrike
By SEWELL CHAN and KIMIKO DE FREYTAS-TAMURA
The Pentagon said on Friday that it was "reasonably certain" that an American airstrike had killed Mohammed Emwazi, the Islamic State's most notorious executioner.
Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the American-led coalition fighting the militant group, told reporters at a news briefing that the airstrike on Thursday took place near the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, Syria. He said the Pentagon was still seeking final verification that Mr. Emwazi, 27, who became known as Jihadi John, was killed in the strike.
Speaking from Baghdad over a webcast, Colonel Warren said a Reaper drone fired Hellfire missiles at a car in which Mr. Emwazi and another militant were believed to be traveling. "We know for a fact that the weapon system hit its intended target, and that the personnel who were on the receiving end of that weapons system were in fact killed," he said, but it remained necessary to confirm that "those personnel were specifically who we thought they were."
Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain defended the decision to target Mr. Emwazi,  a naturalized British citizen born in Kuwait, as "an act of self-defense" and "the right thing to do."
"We have been working with the United States literally around the clock to track him down," Mr. Cameron said in London. "This was a combined effort, and the contribution of both our countries was essential. Emwazi is a barbaric murderer."
He called the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, an "evil terrorist death cult," and said of Mr. Emwazi, "He was ISIL's lead executioner, and let us never forget that he killed many, many Muslims, too."
At a news conference in Tunis, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the airstrike should serve as a warning.
"We are still assessing the results of this strike, but the terrorists associated with Daesh need to know this: Your days are numbered, and you will be defeated," Mr. Kerry said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. "There is no future, no path forward for Daesh, which does not lead ultimately to its elimination, to its destruction."
Civil liberties advocates have criticized any official British attempt to kill Mr. Emwazi as possibly unlawful, in a debate that paralleled the criticism over the Obama administration's decision to target and kill Anwar al-Awlaki,  an American-born cleric and a United States citizen, in Yemen in 2011.
The United States considers such strikes against specific militant leaders to be lawful acts of war or self-defense, especially when it is not feasible to attempt to capture the militants but they can be struck by a missile fired from a drone or warplane.
In 2014, when the United States began its air campaign against the Islamic State, the Obama administration declared the operations to be part of the existing armed conflict that Congress authorized against Al Qaeda after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The group now known as the Islamic State was a component or affiliate of Al Qaeda for years, but it split away over internal disagreements.
Mr. Emwazi, who was first known only as an unidentified, masked man with a British accent, first came to prominence in August 2014, when the Islamic State released a video in which the journalist James Foley  was shown reading a statement criticizing President Obama and the American military operation against the Islamic State in Iraq. His captor then beheaded him off camera and then threatened to behead another journalist, Steven J. Sotloff,  if his demands were not met.
Two weeks later, the Islamic State released a video showing the masked man beheading Mr. Sotloff.
The Washington Post revealed Mr. Emwazi's identity  in February, reporting that he grew up in a well-off family that moved to Britain when he was a child, and that he had studied computer science at the University of Westminster. The revelation touched off intense examination of the causes of radicalization among Muslim immigrants in Europe.
Mr. Emwazi was part of a group of friends, called the "North London Boys" by some intelligence analysts, who prayed at the same mosque and became captivated by an Egyptian-born cleric, Hani al-Sibai. Mr. Sibai is thought to have close links to the Tunisian branch of Ansar al-Shariah, a Salafist group that has been linked to a deadly attack in June on tourists in Tunisia.
The leader of this network was Bilal al-Berjawi, who was stripped of his British citizenship in 2011 after he went to Somalia to join the Islamist group known as the Shabab, and was killed by an American drone strike the next year. That same year, Mohamed Sakr, another friend, was also killed by a drone strike in Somalia.
British officials have said that Mr. Emwazi was on a list of potential terror suspects since 2009, but that they were unable to prevent him from traveling to Syria in 2013.
Mr. Foley's parents, John and Diane Foley, said they were not comforted by the news of the attack. "If only so much effort had been given to rescuing Jim and the other hostages who were subsequently murdered by ISIS, they might be alive today," they said in a statement.
Reg Henning, the brother of the British aid worker Alan Henning, one of Mr. Emwazi's victims, told the BBC, "I was glad to hear he had been killed, but I would have preferred him to have been brought to justice." A trial, he added, might have "dragged on for months and months."
Bethany Haines, the daughter of another victim, David Cawthorne Haines, said she felt "an instant sense of relief" in learning about the attack, because it meant "he wouldn't appear in anymore horrific videos."
Mr. Emwazi's other victims were Kenji Goto, a journalist, and Haruna Yukawa, an adventurer,  both Japanese, and an American aid worker, Peter Kassig,  also known as Abdul-Rahman Kassig.
Mr. Cameron praised the American decision to target Mr. Emwazi, saying: "The United Kingdom has no better friend or ally."
He added, "If this strike was successful -- and we still await confirmation of that -- it will be a strike at the heart of ISIL, and it will demonstrate to those who would do Britain, our people and our allies harm we have a long reach, we have unwavering determination and we never forget about our citizens."
The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said that Mr. Emwazi should ideally have faced trial. "It appears Mohammed Emwazi has been held to account for his callous and brutal crimes," Mr. Corbyn said in a statement on Friday. "However, it would have been far better for us all if he had been held to account in a court of law. These events only underline the necessity of accelerating international efforts, under the auspices of the U.N., to bring an end to the Syrian conflict as part of a comprehensive regional settlement."
In August, a British drone strike, its first inside Syria, killed three people suspected of being members of the Islamic State,  including two British citizens, Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin.
Britain is not formally taking part in military action in Syria -- its Parliament having rejected  such an intervention two years ago -- but Britain and France are involved  in the American-led air campaign against Islamic State targets.
In 2009, after returning from a trip to Africa, Mr. Emwazi contacted Cage, a British advocacy organization, to complain that he had been harassed by British security services.
In a statement on Friday, Cage said that Mr. Emwazi "should have been tried as a war criminal" and expressed concern about the attack aimed at him. "State-sponsored targeted assassinations undercut the judicial processes that provide the lessons by which spirals of violence can be stopped," it said.
Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Eric Schmitt and Charlie Savage contributed reporting.