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Jihadi John: What We Know About the Alleged Terrorist

Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The man believed to be the ISIS terrorist dubbed "Jihadi John" has been identified as a British man named Mohammed Emwazi.

The terrorist's identity was first reported by the BBC and The Washington Post, which cited a friend who had "no doubt" that Emwazi was the masked man believed to be seen in at least seven ISIS beheading videos.

Emwazi was born in Kuwait, but moved to England when he was 6 years old, according to a rights group that worked with him in the years before he reportedly left England for Syria.

Emwazi's family lives in Queens Park, a neighborhood in North West London. The neighborhood is considered to be working class.

Neighbors told ABC News that Emwazi's relatives have not been seen at their home in the past week.

The University of Westminster confirmed to ABC News that a student by the same name left the school in 2009.

"If these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened by the news," a spokesman for the university said in a statement.

In 2010, Emwazi reportedly attempted to move to Kuwait but was stopped from doing so by British counter-terrorism officials, according to activist group CAGE.

CAGE describes itself as an "advocacy organisation" that regularly works on behalf of Guantanamo Bay detainees and Muslims who have been detained for terrorism. Their employee, Asim Qureshi, spoke Thursday about how communicated with Emwazi repeatedly between 2010 and 2012 when he is believed to have gone to Syria.

Qureshi described Emwazi as a "beautiful young man" when they met in the summer of 2009 to discuss Emwazi’s complaints about being detained and harassed by British authorities as he traveled.

He said he cannot confirm that the man in the video is Emwazi because his face is covered, but added that the personality is very different from the one he knew in London. He described Emwazi as kind, gentle and soft spoken.

He said Emwazi told him he didn't "want to live in a country where I’m treated as the enemy."

"What happened to him after then? I can’t tell you. I don’t know myself," Qureshi said.

Jihadi John gained international attention in August 2014 when he appeared to be the masked man who executed American journalist James Foley in a video that became the first in a disturbing string of similar executions.

He spoke English with a British accent in the video, hence his nickname, Jihadi John.

Though he always appeared covered, his voice and stature led experts to believe that he was also the figure pictured in at least six other videos showing the deaths of Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Alan Henning, Peter Kassig, Kenji Goto Jogo and Haruna Yakuawa.

Neither British nor American government officials have publicly confirmed the masked man's identity, but both have expressed concerns about how this revelation could impact ongoing investigations.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister David Cameron said that he "would be concerned about information being put into the public domain at any time that might jeopardize ongoing police or security investigations or the safety of British citizens."

A press officer for the White House National Security Council issued a statement Thursday morning.

"The U.S. government continues to investigate the murder of American citizens by ISIL. We will not comment on ongoing investigations and therefore are not in a position to confirm or deny the identity of this individual. As the president has said, no matter how long it takes, the United States will not rest until we find and hold accountable the terrorists who are responsible for the murders of our citizens."

What to know:

  • The ISIS executioner dubbed "Jihadi John" has been named by news reports.
  • He is believed to be a Kuwait-born British man.
  • He attended college in London and his family lives there now.
  • He is thought to have fled to Syria in 2012.
  • He allegedly killed at least seven foreign captives on video.


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‘Military-Grade’: Alleged Arms Traffickers Extradited to US

Colin Anderson/Blend Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three alleged international arms dealers have been extradited to the U.S. from Europe to stand trial for allegedly conspiring to sell “military-grade” machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons to a Colombian terrorist group, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

The trio was arrested in December, at which time the Department of Justice described in a statement how the suspects allegedly had unwittingly attempted to unload their deadly wares on confidential sources working with the DEA.

The suspects believed the weapons were going to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, the DOJ said.

“[The suspects] agreed to provide these weapons to the [DEA’s confidential sources] with the specific understanding that the weapons would be used to kill Americans and, in particular, to shoot down American helicopters and airplanes,” the DOJ statement said.

“As alleged, these three men were ready and willing merchants of death, poised to sell sophisticated weapons to a terrorist organization,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in statement Thursday.

The Justice Department said the three – two alleged weapons brokers based in Romania and one in Greece – were spirited to the U.S. from Montenegro Wednesday and are expected to appear in court late Thursday.

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New Murals by Banksy Spotted in Gaza Strip

@banksy/Instagram(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) -- The anonymous street artist known as Banksy has visited the Gaza Strip, leaving behind several murals, according to the artist's official website.

Banksy is known for creating work with political or satirical messages.

One of the paintings in Beit Hanoun features children playing on a guard tower. Another shows a large kitten drawn on the wall of a home that witnesses say was destroyed during Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli war in Gaza during the summer of 2014.

On his website, the artist captioned the kitten photo, saying, "A local man came up and said 'Please -- what does this mean?' I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website -- but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.”

The artist also posted a mini-documentary on his site to further show the conditions in Gaza.

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Antarctica 'Penguin Post Office' Job Attracts Record Number of Applicants

United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust(PORT LOCKROY, Antarctica) -- People with a penchant for penguins are perfect for this position.

A job posting to man the "Penguin Post Office" in Port Lockroy, Antarctica, has received a record number of applicants: more than 1,500 since Feb. 16. In 2014, there were only 82 applicants all year long.

United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) is looking for four people to, in addition to taking care of the 70,000 cards posted each year for delivery to 100 countries, monitor the impact of the approximately 18,000 visitors to Port Lockroy, situated on Goudier Island in the Antarctic Peninsula, on the wildlife, plus record the number of visitors and ships visiting the area.

One reason for the increase in applications, the organization said, was the airing of the documentary Penguin Post Office on BBC2 in the U.K. in July 2014 and on PBS in the U.S. in January 2015.

Each year, the UKAHT’s U.K. team -- based in Cambridge -- searches for committed individuals to make up a small team of four to spend five months at its flagship site, Port Lockroy. The job runs from November 2015 to mid-March and pay is $1,700 per month.

Job Description:

"The team chosen to spend the 2015/16 season at Port Lockroy will assist the Base Leader in the efficient running of the post office, maintenance and museum operation, with areas of responsibility being divided up amongst team members. A can-do attitude is vital as is good physical fitness, co-ordination (carrying heavy boxes over slippery rocks and slushy snow whilst dodging the local gentoo penguin population is a frequent requirement), environmental awareness and a practical knowledge of minimum impact living. Above all successful candidates need to be passionate about the Antarctic."

No post office experience is necessary and applicants need not be British citizens.

Amy Kincaid, a member of the current team, said applicants need to be "realistic." She called the living quarters (pictured) "surprisingly cozy," though added that "being confined to an island the size of a football pitch isn’t for everyone."

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Water Found in Astronaut's Helmet After Second of Three Spacewalks

NASA TV(NEW YORK) -- At the end of Wednesday's spacewalk, NASA astronaut Terry Virts reported seeing a small amount of floating water in his helmet.

According to NASA, the issue was first noticed during repressurization following the bulk of Wednesday's spacewalk -- the second of three spacewalks in which Virts and Barry Wilmore are working to lay cables and install equipment to allow commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station.

During the spacewalk, Virts was wearing spacesuit #3005, which experienced a similar issue in December 2013.

The spacesuit will be carefully assessed before the third scheduled spacewalk on Sunday morning.

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Scientists Discover Brightest Quasar Ever Powered by Black Hole, Dating to Dawn of Time

NASA/JPL-Caltech(NEW YORK) -- In a galaxy far, far away, a colossal black hole 12 billion times more massive than our sun has been discovered by astronomers, sparking a new mystery about the early universe.

Located 12.8 billion light-years from Earth, astronomers discovered the behemoth black hole inside of a quasar that shines 420 trillion times brighter than the sun, according to an article published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The quasar is so bright, scientists say, because of the radiation emitted as matter is accelerated and sucked into the massive black hole.

The ancient quasar was believed to have been shining brightly when the universe was less than a billion years old. With the universe now dated at 13.8 billion years old, the quasar is shining much brighter and is extraordinarily bigger than what scientists would have expected for the ancient body.

There are 40 known quasars that date back to the first one billion years after the Big Bang, according to scientists, with each having a black hole with the mass of one billion suns. By comparison, the newly discovered quasar, called SDSS J0100 2802, is a giant among giants.

The sheer size of the black hole has posed a new question about how something so massive was able to form at the dawn of time.

"How can a quasar so luminous, and a black hole so massive, form so early in the history of the universe, at an era soon after the earliest stars and galaxies have just emerged?" Xiaohui Fan, a professor astronomy at the University of Arizona and co-author of the study, said in a statement. "And what is the relationship between this monster black hole and its surrounding environment, including its host galaxy?"

It's another mystery of the universe that astronomers will continue to ponder.

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'Jihadi John' Identity Revealed, Former Senior Intelligence Official Confirms

Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The man known as "Jihadi John," a British-accented man who appeared in all black in several ISIS videos in which he appears to behead Westerners, has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a former senior U.S. intelligence official confirmed to ABC News.

The man's identity had previously been known to American and British officials, but had not been revealed publicly. The BBC first reported his identity.

 British authorities have declined to comment on the man's identification. Commander Richard Walton of the London Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) told BBC, "We have previously asked media outlets not to speculate about the details of our investigation on the basis that life is at risk."

"We are not going to confirm the identity of anyone at this stage or give an update on the progress of this live counter-terrorism investigation," he said.

The Washington Post quotes a friend of Emwazi, who said that he had "no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John."

The Post described Emwazi as being from a "well-to-do" family in London, who graduated college with a computer programming degree.

A spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council said in a statement that the NSC was "not able to confirm or deny the reports." The spokesperson referred additional questions to the U.K.

The University of Westminster also released a statement through a spokesperson Thursday morning saying that "a Mohammed Emwazi left the University six years ago." The statement said that "if these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened by the news."

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Prince William Qualifies to Be Air Ambulance Pilot

Photo by Tim Rooke - Pool /Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince William completed and passed qualification exams to be an air ambulance pilot, Buckingham Palace confirms.

The Duke of Cambridge pass Air Transport Pilot's Licence exams, required before he could begin working as an Air Ambulance Pilot. The 14 exams included "a range of aviation topics including the Principles of Flight, Navigation, Flight Planning and Air Law."

Prince William is currently on a trip to Japan and China through March 4, and upon his return, the palace says, "he will start working for East Anglian Air Ambulance and be formally employed by Bond Air Services."

Still, the prince will be required to complete additional testing "involving aircraft training, in-flight skills testing and further written exams."

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NATO Commander Unsure About Arming Ukraine's Military

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Top U.S. military officials acknowledged Wednesday that the situation in eastern Ukraine is getting worse as the White House struggles to decide whether to arm Ukraine’s soldiers with lethal defensive weapons to combat pro-Russian separatists.

Air Force General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander in Europe, told a House Armed Services Committee hearing that such a move might only escalate Moscow’s military campaign in eastern Ukraine where rebels have been on the offensive despite a temporary ceasefire that has done little to ease tensions.

The wild card in the conflict between Kiev and the rebels remains Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has long claimed that his country is not involved despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Ukraine's government has pleaded with Washington to provide heavy artillery to help beat back the advance of rebels determined to join the Russian Federation, which the West says has been Putin's motivation all along.

Breedlove explained to lawmakers that giving Ukrainian troops more offensive power "could cause positive results, it could cause negative results."

Even as Defense Secretary Ashton Carter declared that he would support arming Ukraine's military, Breedlove said he didn't think Ukrainian forces would be able to stop a full-scale Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine.

What might change the equation, according to committee chairman Mike Rogers, is if the Russians began suffering casualties, a scenario Breedlove appeared to agree with.

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Human Rights Group Says Number of Syrian Christians Abducted by ISIS Up to 220

MatthewBrosseau/iStock/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS) -- The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that the number of Assyrian Christians abducted by ISIS in northeastern Syria has risen to about 220.

The abductees, which include children, were rounded up from 11 villages. The human rights group speculates that ISIS may be holding them in the area of Mount Abdulaziz.

The reports of the abduction came following a battle between a Syrian Christian militia and the ISIS militants. Reportedly, the Christian militia forced ISIS from several villages, however, ISIS fought back, taking the Christians hostage as they regained parts of the area.

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Partially Paralyzed Athlete Completes Marathons on All Seven Continents

Beth Sanden(NEW YORK) -- A partially disabled woman is celebrating an amazing achievement after completing marathons on all seven continents.

Beth Sanden finished her most recent race less than a week ago in the frozen continent of Antarctica, slogging through ice, mud and trails for nearly 11 hours.

"It’s icy and it’s not flat, it’s got mud, it’s got rocks, it's got gravel," Sanden told ABC News. "It’s the worst terrain you could ever be in."

While Sanden was the last one to complete the race, she said many of her able-bodied competitors stayed to watch her cross the line.

"They were complaining about this and that...then they shut up," Sanden, 60, recalled of her competitors seeing her go slowly down the route.

"A lot of them stayed there in the end," she said, noting her competitors cheered her at the finish line.

Sanden was partially paralyzed in 2002 while she was training for a 50-mile bike race. A bike crash resulted in multiple fractured vertebrae, she said.

While doctors initially believed she would never walk again, Sanden, an avid athlete, said she was determined to recover. Within 20 months she managed to regain movement in her right leg and eventually she returned to the racing circuit via hand cycle, she said.

For the past four years, Sanden, a triathlon coach, has been on a mission to inspire other disabled athletes by completing marathons on all seven continents.

"A lot of the people I coach are disabled [and] are younger than me," said Sanden. "Sometimes they need motivation."

Sanden came up with her mission after she was invited to complete the marathon on the Great Wall of China. Due to the steps, she had to travel much of the distance on her walker, with her incapacitated left leg in a sling, she said.

After five hours, Sanden said she realized she wasn't going to get to the finish line by the eight-hour cutoff. With the organizer's blessing, Sanden switched from walker to hand cycle and finished the race along a route near the wall.

"They had a couple guys get up and carry me down," Sanden said, noting she completed the marathon in 7 hours and 20 minutes.

After that, the mother and coach traveled the world, finishing races in Italy, Peru, Tasmania, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and Boston, Massachusetts.

During this time she has tried to raise awareness for disabled athletes and raise money for the nonprofit group Challenged Athletes Foundation, which aims to support disabled athletes.

During the long slog through Antarctica, Sanden said she was particularly happy to hear from the young athletes she coaches. She said she got multiple messages asking if she was alright.

"'Coach are you doing ok? I can’t believe you’re doing this,'" Sanden recalled the messages reading. "It’s worth it."

She said she often counsels newly disabled people and hopes her story will give more people hope.

"[I do this] mainly to inspire those young disabled people I coach, to say here’s a person who is 60 years old and if I can do it, you can do it, too," said Sanden. "A lot of them will come out of the hospital and say that’s not the end of my life."

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Vatican Grants Homeless Burial

RudolfT/iStock/Thinkstock(VATICAN CITY) -- A rare honor has been bestowed to a homeless man after his death.

Pope Francis has allowed a homeless man who died to be given the rare honor of being buried in the Vatican cemetery.

The 80-year-old homeless Dutch man, Willy Herteller, was found dead inside the Vatican a few months ago. He used to beg in the area, and was well known to the clergy.

It was one of his priest friends who asked the pope if Herteller could be buried in the Vatican's Teutonic cemetery, located inside the Vatican behind St. Peter's Basilica.

The cemetery is the oldest German cemetery where princes and bishops are buried, and located not too far from where Pope Francis has had showers installed for the homeless in Rome under the towering colonnades of St. Peter's Square.

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Russia Plans to Pull Out of International Space Station in 2024, Build Its Own

ESA/NASA(MOSCOW) -- Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, announced on Wednesday that it will end its cooperation on the International Space Station in 2024, and then build its own outpost.

The agency had worked with the United States, Europe, and Japan on the space station.

President Obama recently announced plans to extend the mission to 2024, but any extension beyond that reportedly depended on Russian cooperation.

Wednesday’s announcement not only threatens to end decades of U.S.-Russian cooperation in space, but also the viability of the space station a decade from now.

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Over 100 Reported Dead in Afghanistan Avalanches

File photo. Hemera/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- At least 100 people were killed in a series of avalanches Wednesday in central Afghanistan.

Abdul Rahman Kabiri, governer of the central Panjshir province, told ABC News the avalanches were caused by heavy snowfall in the area and destroyed around 100 homes.

As a result of the avalanches, 51 people are missing so far and 15 others are reported trapped on a mountain that needs emergency evacuation, according to Kabiri.

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Why Iranian Military Attacked US Aircraft Carrier Replica

File photo. Hemera/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- The Iranian Revolutionary Guard conducted large-scale naval drills on Wednesday near the entrance to the Persian Gulf.

A replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier was damaged by speedboats during the drills, which were televised in Iran.

The drills come ahead of a deadline for Iran and world powers to finalize a deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program, which has long been a point of contention.

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