U.S. Drone targets 'jihadi john'

A U.S. drone strike targeted a vehicle in Syria believed to be transporting the masked ISIL militant known as "Jihadi John" on Thursday, U.S. officials said. Whether the strike killed the British man who appears in several videos depicting the beheadings of Western hostages was not known, officials said.

Mohammed Emwazi was the target of an airstrike in Raqqa, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said. Officials were assessing the results of the strike, he said.

A U.S. official said a drone had targeted a vehicle in which Emwazi was believed to be traveling. Emwazi has been described by a former hostage as a bloodthirsty psychopath who enjoyed threatening Western hostages. Spanish journalist Javier Espinosa, who had been held in Syria for more than six months after his abduction in September 2013, said Emwazi would explain precisely how the militants would carry out a beheading.

Among those beheaded by ISIL in videos posted online since August 2014 were U.S. journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, U.S. aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto.

Europe disrupts terror network

Authorities arrested 15 people in four European countries Thursday, breaking up what they called a terrorist network that sought to overthrow the Kurdish government in northern Iraq and to recruit militants to fight in Iraq and Syria.

The arrests — seven in Italy, four in Britain, three in Norway and one in Finland — were the result, officials said, of a four-year investigation led by the Italian authorities into Rawti Shax, an organization headed by an Iraqi Kurdish cleric based in Norway.

The cleric, Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, also known as Mullah Krekar, is in a Norwegian prison, serving a sentence for making violent threats. He is a notorious figure in Norway, having survived an assassination attempt; made a death threat against the prime minister, Erna Solberg; and praised the militants who attacked the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January, killing 12 people.

All of the suspects are likely to face charges in Italy.

news services