It didn’t take long for IS (Islamic State) to find a new cartoon-style villain to fill the shoes of Mohammed “Jihadi John” Emwazi. The masked villain often appeared in high-value productions, narrating them with a perfect British accent, as the enemies of IS were slain in increasingly elaborate and equally gruesome manners.
Just as Jihadi John’s villainy reached a crescendo, the US claimed it targeted and killed him in a drone strike. Nothing resembling actual confirmation was produced afterward, and many questioned the value or impact of eliminating what was for all intents and purposes merely a figurehead.
Instead of actually identifying and dismantling IS on the battlefield, the US appears to be faux-fighting the organization in a public relations campaign mimicking the simplistic narratives children might see during a G.I Joe episode on Saturday morning:
“The bad guy died, we are winning.”
However, Western audiences have a shrinking attention span coupled with a growing awareness that everything they see on the news is likely at the very least, ‘spun.’ Despite this skepticism, US and European news services insist on serving up intelligence-insulting narratives seemingly designed for the minds of children, not educated, informed adults.
So just as Jihadi John’s memory began to fade from the collective narrative the US and European media pummels its audiences with daily, Jihadi John version 2.0 has been introduced. This IS doppelganger denizen appears almost identical to his predecessor, with the only difference being his brandishing of a pistol instead of a combat knife.
CNN reports in its article New ‘Jihadi John’? British-sounding militant features in new ISIS video, that:
An English-speaking child, and a British-sounding militant who brings to mind ISIS’ previous propagandist, ‘Jihadi John,’ appear in the latest, chilling propaganda video from ISIS.
In the video, which has not yet been independently verified, the child says that the group will kill “kuffar’ — nonbelievers — “over there,” referring to the West, while the adult threatens and insults British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The speaker’s accent and dress bring to mind the previous — masked — face of the terror group, Mohammed Emwazi, otherwise known as “Jihadi John.” Emwazi was understood to have been killed in Raqqa late last year in an airstrike which specifically targeted the Briton. His absence lends credence to Western intelligence agencies’ belief that he is indeed dead.
Jihadi John 2.0 is still narrating IS’ high-value productions, which include gruesome executions, and the US and European media is still using him as the very convenient, extremely easy-to-hate face of IS. That Jihadi John 2.0 is taunting British Prime Minister David Cameron, is highly suspicious, considering that the British have been “fighting” IS for over a month now, but have conducted only 3 airstrikes, versus dozens of strikes daily by Russia accompanied by offensives carried out by a reinvigorated Syrian military on multiple fronts.
It’s almost as if this cartoon character, Jihadi John, is meant to intentionally offend Western sensibilities, provoking support for an otherwise unpopular and unjustifiable foreign military adventure in a country the US and UK do not otherwise belong meddling in.
Who is Jihadi John 2.0? Who Knows? Who Cares?
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who any of the incarnations of Jihadi John are. The role this figurehead plays in IS’ overall operation is actually superficial at best, and under closer scrutiny, aiding and abetting US and European meddling in the region by providing an overly obvious justification to continually perpetuate geopolitical dynamics in the region aimed at transforming the Middle East into a shape more suitable to Western interests.
That the United States invested time, money, and energy into allegedly killing “Jihadi John,” instead of identifying, exposing, and dismantling IS’ logistical networks, including those stretching into NATO territory itself in Turkey, seems to indicate the US is not serious at all about actually fighting or stopping IS, and instead, just interested in appearing to do so.
That CNN thinks this is a story instead of asking just why the US is not trying to get to the bottom of IS’ source of money, supplies, weapons, fighters and political support, tells you that CNN is not interested in journalism, but like Jihadi John himself (selves?) they are nothing more than propagandists attempting to manipulate, not inform the public’s perception.
Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.