The British authorities suspect a rapper from London, known as L Jinny, of being one of the ISIL militants who beheaded the journalist James Foley in a video released earlier this week, reports the Independent. Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary is thought to be one of three British militants—dubbed the Beatles—who are guarding hostages near Raqqa, Syria. He has left a macabre trail on social media.
Bary traveled to Syria earlier this year to fight as part of ISIL, which began as militants in the country and declared an Islamic caliphate after taking large swathes of central Iraq in the summer, and came to attention earlier this month for posting a picture of himself on Twitter with one finger in the air and holding a severed head in Raqqa. “Chillin’ with my homie or what’s left of him,” he wrote in the tweet. Britain’s Daily Star posted a censored version of the image, below. (Quartz recently ruminated on the morality of posting images of death.) Bary’s Twitter account has now been shut down.
Bary and his family live in Maida Vale, a fairly prosperous neighborhood in London. His father was extradited from the UK to the US in 2012—along with the more well-known Abu Hamza—after an eight-year legal battle. He was accused of being one of Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenants, organizing a terror cell in London, and playing a role in the attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. In a sympathetic interview from 2013, Bary’s mother told The Guardian : “My life, it is just my kids now … but maybe, after 20 years of nothing but anxiety, maybe, maybe, I can say I’m recovering myself … maybe.”
Under the name of L Jinny and Lyricist Jinn, Bary has had songs played on the BBC. His most recent song was posted in March. (Update: The video was removed from YouTube after this piece was initially published.)
“The Beatles” appear to be crueller even than the local jihadists. “They were really rough with” the hostages, a source told NBC News. “Whenever the Beatles showed up, there was some kind of physical beating or torture.” Radicalization of the Muslim population in the UK has been a problem for a long time, most vividly illustrated when four Britons of Pakistani descent killed themselves and 52 innocent people in suicide attacks on the London transport system in July 2005. It appears to be getting worse. In the UK, offences related to Syria—such as financing of terrorism or visiting a training camp—have shot up this year. There were 69 arrests by Scotland Yard in the first six months of the year compared to 25 for the whole of 2013, according to The Independent.