A view of the house in London where the family of British ISIS member Mohammed Emwazi lived before he was identified, Britain. Reuters
The US military said Friday it was "reasonably certain" that it killed the ruthless Islamic State militant known as "Jihadi John" in a drone strike in Syria.
The masked British militant targeted in Thursday's strike sparked worldwide revulsion with his grisly executions of foreign aid workers and journalists in Syria on camera.
"We are reasonably certain that we killed the target that we intended to kill, which is 'Jihadi John,'" Colonel Steve Warren said from Baghdad in a briefing that was webcast live to reporters at the Pentagon.
Warren said it would take time for final formal confirmation that the high-value target killed in the Hellfire missile drone strike was indeed the 27-year-old Briton who was born Mohammed Emwazi in Kuwait.
But he stressed that the United States had "great confidence that this individual was Jihadi John."
"We know for a fact that the weapons 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.
"This guy was a human animal, and killing him probably makes the world a little bit better place."
He added that Emwazi was "an ISIL celebrity" but not a crucial figure in the group's hierarchy.
"There is certainly a significant blow to their prestige of ISIL, but Jihadi John wasn't a major tactical figure or operational figure," Warren said.
‘Killing 'Jihadi John' won't bring son back’
The parents of the executed US reporter James Foley said Friday the apparent death in an air strike of the Islamic State militant "Jihadi John" was of little solace to them.
"It is a very small solace to learn that Jihadi John may have been killed by the US government," John and Diane Foley said in a statement.
"His death does not bring Jim back," said the couple, whose son, a freelance journalist, was captured in Syria in 2012 and beheaded in August 2014.
"If only so much effort had been given to finding and rescuing Jim and the other hostages who were subsequently murdered by ISIS, they might be alive today."
Two weeks after Foley, fellow US hostage Steven Sotloff was killed in the same manner, again on camera and by Jihadi John.
Sotloff's sister, Lauren, posted on Facebook that the militant "should of had his head cut off also and been left to suffer. But at least he is dead."
"Hoping my brother is in heaven knowing some justice was served. Unfortunately this still doesn't change things," she wrote.