British intelligence officials have identified a London rapper who traveled to Syria last year to fight with Islamist militants as the man who killed American journalist James Foley in a beheading video that surfaced last week, according to British news outlets.
Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, 24, known as L Jinny or Lyricist Jinn in London, left a budding music career that included appearances on BBC Radio in 2012. He was identified through voice recognition technology and represents a growing danger to the U.K. and other Western nations of jihadists returning from the front, the United Kingdom's ambassador to Washington, Sir Peter Westmacott, told The Guardian newspaper.
The suspect's father, Adel Abdul Bary, was extradited in 2012 from the U.K. to the USA to face charges that he participated in al-Qaeda's 1998 attacks on two U.S. embassies in east Africa. The elder Bary was an Egyptian refugee considered one of Osama bin Laden's closest lieutenants, the Guardian reported.
U.K. intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 identified the son, who caused a stir earlier this year after he posted a photograph of himself in Syria holding aloft a severed head, according to The Independent.
In the most recent video, Foley's killer said the Islamic State was killing the journalist who'd gone missing in Syria two years earlier to punish the U.S. for airstrikes targeting the group in Iraq. He said a similar fate awaits Steven Joel Sotloff, a photojournalist and former University of Central Florida student, if U.S. attacks continue.
Foley went missing in 2012 in northern Syria while on assignment. On Sunday, another kidnapped American journalist was released. Peter Theo Curtis, 45, who writes under the name Theo Padnos, had been held by the al-Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaeda in Syria.
The British papers document the change in Abdel Bary's lyrics, from discussing drug use, violence and worries about deportation to Egypt, to anger at peers who go clubbing and at authorities for arresting his father.
Early songs from 2012 apparently refer to marijuana — "roll up and watch the leaves ignite" — and to trying to make ends meet while dealing with a troubled past, according to The Independent.
"It's hard to progress in the future with a damaged past, but still I try to count my blessings and I thank Allah," he rapped in 2012. "I'm trying to change my ways, but there's blood on my hands and I can't change my ways until there's funds in the bank."
In his most recent rap, posted to YouTube in March, he talks of killing cops.
"Give me the pride and the honor like my father, I swear the day they came and took my dad, I could have killed a cop or two," Bary said. "...Violate my brothers and I'm filling you with lead."
The man in the beheading video is one of hundreds of militants from the U.K. and other Western nations prepared to kill and die for the radical Islamic State group that has conquered much of Iraq and Syria and is battling with both country's governments while imposing draconian and brutal rule in territory they control.
About 500 British citizens are believed to have traveled to fight with the radical religious group in Syria and Iraq, and many others have traveled from other countries, said Mia Bloom, an expert on suicide terrorism.
All Western countries are worried about these people coming home, Bloom said.