An US official reported that ISIS executioner Mohammed Emwazi or ‘Jihadi John’ has been killed in an US drone airstrike. While this is in itself a victory against ISIS it is not as significant as in terms of the wider conflict in Syria and Iraq.
Emwazi signifies IS and their brutal tactics and predilection of extreme violence. A radicalized Kuwaiti born British citizen who went to Syria to join the islamic state, Emwazi was successfully targeted in an US airstrike.
It is reported another member of IS was killed in the vehicle in which they were both traveling. In a sense justice for his victims has been done, but that is about as far as his death goes in terms of significance. Outside of his prominence as an executioner, he was not a strategic target and his death will not have any strategic implications on the war in Syria or Iraq.
A largely symbolic event but only a minor blow for IS in propaganda terms, it may have an impact on radicalized youths traveling to the Middle East in search of Jihad as the airstrike signifies the ability of the United States and its Allies effective use of signal intelligence and human intelligence to successfully eliminate high value targets and persons of interest.
Terrorism experts have said the possible death of the British militant known as Jihadi John has dealt an ideological, rather than operational, blow to ISIS. UK Prime Minister David Cameron championed the attack as a “strike at the heart” of the terrorist group earlier today, saying Britain and the US had demonstrated their “long reach”.
Although not involved in the strike, the Russian air force has, over the last week, ramped up it air offensive in Syria in conjunction with a renewed Syria ground offensive, striking nearly 500 hundred targets in Syria this week alone, seriously hampering IS and al-Nursa efforts to maintain territorial gains.