From books to beheading: Has uni changed anyone more than ISIS executioner Jihadi John?

The terror butcher of Islamic State was radicalised at uni


We all know someone who left school with one personality and arrived at uni with another. 

Most freshers discover hip-hop and snapbacks but Mohammed Emwazi — recently exposed as Islamic State executioner Jihadi John — found hardline Islamism and a murderous hatred of the West.

Former schoolmates of the cowardly butcher remember Londoner Emwazi, 26, as a normal teenager who smoked, drank and listened to rap.

But when he started as a Business Studies fresher at Westminster Uni he rapidly transformed into the brainwashed fanatic who would go on to coldly behead James Foley, David Haines, Alan Henning and others.


Mohammed Emwazi at school

Jihadi John 1

Credit: The Islamic State of Syria and the Levant

An ex-classmate remembers Emwazi as an ordinary boy, with a small violent streak, as part of their school gang.

Speaking anonymously in The Sun, she said: “He dressed like a gangsta rapper and was very into music at that time. He was obsessed with Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Tupac Shakur.

“I never saw him pray or wear Islamic dress — he would not even mention religion at all.

“Being a Muslim myself I was very aware of it at the time.

“We had a gang and he was very much a part of it, which shows he is a total hypocrite.”


Jihadi John 2

Credit: The Islamic State in Syria and the Levant

The old pal recalls Emwazi’s love of Manchester United and how he was always ready for a fight.

She said: “My crew were impressed because he had attitude. He had a very aggressive nature and would not be pushed around.

“I saw him get into a fight in the sports hall. It was over a game of football and there was a lot of pushing and shoving.

“He wasn’t the biggest but he could look after himself.

“He was suspended from school for two days because of that fight, but he didn’t seem to care — he was very rebellious.”


Credit: The Islamic State in Syria and the Levant

Teenage Emwazi left school with a reputation for smoking weed and bunking off to drink cider — but when he started at Westminster he was quickly sucked into a dangerous new world of radicalisation.

The uni is known for Islamic extremism and hate-preaching.

Counter-terror experts believe it was at Westminster where Emwazi started on his journey to becoming the notorious murderer spouting hate and violence in Syria.

Invited speakers include “homophobic” preacher Hamza Tzortis and al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, later killed in a US drone strike in Yemen.

One former student was jailed in 2007 after being found with rocket blueprints in his luggage at Luton airport and the 2011 Union president had links to radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The director of anti-extremist organisation Student Rights, Rupert Sutton said: “I believe Emwazi was radicalised at Westminster.

“He was certainly building towards that as a student.”

Credit: The Islamic State in Syria and the Levant

Credit: The Islamic State in Syria and the Levant

Shortly before making the journey to Syria in 2012, Emwazi’s old classmate saw him in West London.

She saw him as one of three people wearing white Islamic robes.

The ex-pal remembers: “I asked him how he was but he didn’t really say anything. He was a bit zoned out — like a zombie. There was a void behind the eyes. It was awkward. I left pretty quickly.

“It feels surreal to see him in Syria now. I liked him growing up but now he is doing this.”