World

Mohammed Emwazi, Jihadi John, was hardworking, former principal says

The former school principal of the man who became Jihadi John says he had adolescent issues and was occasionally bullied by other students, but was a "hardworking and aspirational young man" when she knew him.

ISIS militant showed no signs of embracing radical causes while at school

The photo of an unmasked Mohammed Emwazi is from university records, showing the man who became known as Jihadi John. Before university he attended Quintin Kynaston school in London. (University of Westminster/ISIS)

The former school principal of the man who became Jihadi John says he was a relatively hardworking student who showed no signs of radicalization.

Jo Shuter, former head teacher at Quintin Kynaston school in London, told BBC Radio on Monday that Mohammed Emwazi was a "hardworking and aspirational young man" when she knew him.

She said he had "adolescent issues" and was occasionally bullied by other students.

Shuter said Emwazi did well enough in school to allow him to gain admission to the university that was his first choice. He earned a degree in computer science at the University of Westminster.

Suicidal thoughts

The former principal said neither he nor other students showed signs of embracing radical causes while at school.

"I can't stress enough, he wasn't a huge concern to us," she told BBC.

Shuter also said that she was horrified when she found out the masked man who appears in ISIS beheading videos was Emwazi, adding that if the school had thought he was radicalized while he was a student there, they would have done something about it. 

But as an adult, Emwazi had suicidal thoughts before leaving Britain for Syria. In an email exchange with the Daily Mail five years ago, he talked of taking too many sleeping pills and sleeping forever as a way to get away from British security service scrutiny.

It was also learned that he was a member of a network in contact with one of the men convicted of trying to bomb the London underground in 2005, according to the government.

He went to Syria early, in 2013, in the vanguard of the British jihadi movement, before the ISIS militants seized territory and issued a call for other like-minded people — including girls and young women — to join its ranks in Syria and Iraq.

There is circumstantial evidence suggesting Emwazi tried earlier to link up with al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia but was thwarted in part by a British spy who tried unsuccessfully to recruit him into the secret service.

now