UK & World News

  • 25 August 2014, 2:18

UK Close To Identifying James Foley's Killer

The British ambassador to the US says the UK is close to identifying the Islamic State (IS) militant who murdered American journalist James Foley.

Ambassador Peter Westmacott told CNN that "we are not far away" from identifying the masked killer and "we are putting a lot into it".

He added "sophisticated" technology, including voice recognition software, was being used by authorities to track him down.

Some reports suggest MI5 and MI6 have already worked out the identity of the Mr Foley's killer, dubbed "Jihadi John", who had an English accent.

The jihadist claimed the killing was in retaliation for US airstrikes on IS positions in northern Iraq. The Islamist militant group has taken over large parts of the country.

They have also won ground in parts of Syria, where a US journalist missing since 2012 has been freed by kidnappers.

The man, named as Peter Theo Curtis, was reportedly handed to a United Nations representative following Qatari efforts to win his release.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Mr Foley's beheading was "an utter betrayal of everything the British people stand for".

Writing in the Sunday Times, he said it was horrifying that the perpetrator "could have been brought up in Britain".

He said the Government was investing "significant resources" to tackle "a barbaric ideology", warning if the IS militants are not stopped in Iraq and Syria "sooner or later they will seek to strike us on British soil".

Mr Hammond said the threat from Iraq and Syria would last a generation, echoing comments made by Home Secretary Theresa May as she announced plans to bring in new laws to tackle the threat of British jihadists.

But former shadow home secretary David Davis dismissed suggestions the new laws, dubbed asbos for terrorists, would prevent Britons fighting for IS, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

Instead, he said, the jihadists should be stopped from returning to the UK and stripped of their citizenship.

Mr Davis said the Government's response to the crisis in Iraq had been "tentative, uncertain, almost limp".

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, also called for Britons fighting for IS in Iraq and Syria to lose their passports.

He wrote in the Mail on Sunday: "They should not have access to the privilege of travelling under a British passport... and they certainly should not be able to travel back with the barbaric and bloodthirsty skills they have gained."

The Home Office has insisted it would take the "strongest possible action" against people travelling to fight in Iraq and Syria.

A spokesman said: "The police, security services and Border Force are actively working to identify, detect and disrupt terrorist threats, including from British fighters attempting to return to the UK.

"They use a wide range of powers including those which allow them to detain and interview individuals at the UK border suspected of being involved in terrorism."

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