INTELLIGENCE agencIes are today continuing their search for the British-sounding man behind the brutal killing of US journalist James Foley.
A man with a British accent – possibly from London or the South-East – is at the centre of a global search after he was filmed beheading the journalist in a video released by extremist group Islamic State.
The man’s accent led to a call for those who might recognise his voice to inform the authorities immediately.
Richard Barrett, an ex-director of counter-terrorism at MI6, said: “The community will probably be able to recognise this person and I’m sure many will be quite keen to do so. He will have had many acquaintances, friends and family in the UK and they will wish to see him brought to justice.”
Mr Barrett warned that there would be “huge problems involved” in bringing the man to justice if he is eventually found.
He said that there was obviously no way for the US or the UK to make an extradition request, adding though that: “There are courses of action that can be taken and once he is identified then that course of action becomes a lot clearer.”
The former spy said that it was likely that many of the 400 or 500 people who had travelled from Britain to fight with IS, or other extremist groups in Iraq and Syria had likely acted in a way that would have “made their presence there known” to officials.
The search came as the Prime Minister returned to his holiday after attending Downing Street security briefings.
David Cameron went back to Cornwall yesterday but will continue to receive regular updates and briefings, No 10 said.
Throughout the day more details emerged of the hostage situation, including a failed attempt by the US to free the captives in July.
Following the raid, the Foley family and the US Government are reported to have received a $132m ransom request.
Mr Foley, 40, a freelance reporter for the Boston-based Global Post, was abducted in Syria 22 months ago while covering the country’s civil war.
A former hostage, who was held for a year in the Syrian town of Raqqa, has said the killer was the ringleader of a trio of UK-born extremists the captives nicknamed “The Beatles” because of their nationality.
Yesterday the US carried out further air strikes on IS targets in Iraq despite the group’s warning that more hostages would die if America continued such missions.
As the American air strikes continue, more UK aid flights, delivering tents, food and vehicles for humanitarian workers, have departed for northern Iraq.
The flights, which took off from Dubai today, will deliver the much-needed supplies to people across the country’s Dahuk region who have been forced to flee their homes after threats and attacks from Islamist extremists.
The first UK aid flight was on August 16, and delivered almost 8,000 kitchen sets allowing people to cook for themselves, to stranded families.
The contents of the latest delivery, bringing to six the total number of flights to date, are aimed at providing shelter for 2,575 people, as well as body armour for aid workers.
Around half a million people, almost half of the population, have been displaced in the Dahuk region of the country.
The RAF has already made seven airdrops to people trapped on Mount Sinjar, providing over 80 tonnes of aid, including water purification containers, solar lanterns, and shelter kits.