ISIS Leaders Laugh in Raqqa as World Hunted Them

New footage of senior British Islamic State militant group (ISIS) operatives has emerged from the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, and provides fresh insight into life for foreign fighters inside the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate in the Middle East.

The footage, obtained by Britain’s Daily Telegraph, shows Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John; Junaid Hussain, ISIS’s top cyber chief; Reyaad Khan, a key recruiter and religious figure for the jihadist group; and sniper Raymond Matimba.

Filmed in November 2014, after a series of executions of Western hostages, it shows the men sitting around in a cafe, laughing and joking as they charge their phones, weapons standing against the wall. The video was secretly filmed by an unidentified ISIS defector, who has now fled Raqqa, despite the threat of execution. It displays the men in an unstaged setting, one very different to the film-like propaganda productions in which its militants have regularly appeared.

Monsters unmasked. British Islamic State members incl Jihadi John who beheaded US & UK hostages.

— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) September 25, 2017

It is the first footage released of the men inside the caliphate, without their identity hidden by masks. It is also one of the first videos to show some of the most senior leaders of ISIS in their environment at the height of the group’s power. The cafe was the one place that the men could hide their identities outside of their homes.

“All of them wore black masks. Jihadi John was special and had a distinctive green one,” the source told the Telegraph. “It is the one you can see on his head in the video.”

Emwazi became one of the most wanted ISIS fighters for his filmed beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as American aid worker Peter Kassig and British nationals Alan Henning and David Haines. 

“Emwazi was only violent in the media, but in normal life he was a calm person,” the Telegraph’s source said. “He spoke quietly and little, but when he did he was respected. He never hurt people in public, he would avoid any contact with civilians on the street.

“Junaid was the IT guy, the controller, the leader. He was the most feared. When he entered the cafe the others would all stand up and look to him. He would tell everyone [what] to do,” he said.

The videos that starred Emwazi were publicized around the world and pushed the U.S. into forming a coalition of air…

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