An arrangment of British daily newspapers photographed in London on February 27, 2015 shows the front-page headlines and stories regarding the identification of the masked Islamic State group militant dubbed "Jihadi John". The British headlines were dominated on Febryary 27 by the story of the identification of the Islamic State executioner. "Jihadi John", the masked Islamic State group militant believed responsible for beheading of at least five Western hostages, has been named as Kuwaiti-born computing graduate Mohammed Emwazi from London. AFP PHOTO

LONDON: The London man believed to be Islamic State executioner “Jihadi John” told a journalist four years ago that surveillance by British security services had left him contemplating suicide, it emerged Saturday.

Mohammed Emwazi, named by media and experts as the militant thought to have beheaded at least five Western hostages held by the IS group, told the Mail on Sunday reporter that he felt like a “dead man walking.”

A British civil rights group that was in contact with Emwazi, Cage, claims that domestic spy agency MI5 had been tracking him since at least 2009, and blamed his radicalisation on their “harassment.”


Ceri Bullivant from human rights organisation 'CAGE', speaks during a news conference in central London, February 26, 2015. Investigators believe that the masked killer known as "Jihadi John," who fronted Islamic State beheading videos, is a British man named Mohammed Emwazi, two U.S. government sources said on Thursday. Asim Qureshi, the research director of charity Cage which worked with Emwazi since 2009, said that although he could not be certain Emwazi was John, there were some "striking similarities." Cage, which campaigns for those detained on terrorism charges, said Emwazi had got in touch with Cage saying he had been harassed by British security services after trying to take a trip back to Kuwait in 2010 where he was going to get married and had a job waiting. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: CONFLICT POLITICS CRIME LAW RELIGION)

Prime Minister David Cameron and a former head of foreign spy agency MI6 strongly rejected the idea, while London mayor Boris Johnson accused Cage of an “apology for terror.”

In an email to Mail on Sunday reporter Robert Verkaik, dated December 14, 2010, Emwazi described how he sold his laptop to someone he met online who he subsequently came to believe was with the security services.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m a dead man walking, not fearing they may kill me. Rather, fearing that one day, I’ll take as many pills as I can that I can sleep forever!! I just want to get away from these people!!!” Emwazi wrote.

Emwazi was born in Kuwait but moved to London when he was a child and attended school and university in the capital.

The Daily Telegraph reported this weekend that he went to high school with two other boys who went onto become militants – Choukri Ellekhlifi, who was killed fighting in Syria, and Mohammed Sakr, killed fighting in Somalia.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said Saturday that it had launched a review into how Quintin Kynaston school in north London dealt with radicalisation “to see if there are any lessons we can learn.”

It was also reported that Emwazi had contacts with the men responsible for failed attacks on London’s public transport system in 2005, two weeks after suicide bombings killed 52 people in the capital.

All the revelations add to pressure on the security and intelligence agencies to explain why they did not act on their suspicions about Emwazi before he travelled to Syria.

Cameron on Friday defended their actions, saying they have to make “incredibly difficult judgements, and I think basically they make very good judgements.” -AFP