Senators call for reward in ISIS killings

By The Union Leader, 

Under legislation being introduced by New Hampshire’s two U.S. senators, a $5 million reward would be paid for information about ISIS terrorists who kidnapped and murdered four Americans, including Rochester-based journalist James Foley.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., have re-introduced bipartisan legislation to update the U.S. State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program, authorizing rewards of up to $5 million for information regarding the ISIS terrorists responsible for the kidnapping and murders of Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.

The bill would also authorize up to $5 million for information on the kidnapping and murder of any other U.S. citizen by a foreign terrorist organization. The bill would prohibit rewards for individuals who support, or are affiliated with, foreign terrorist organizations.

“Terrorists around the world must know that if they kill Americans, we will hunt them down,” Ayotte said. “We continue to mourn the loss of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller, and this legislation honors their memory and reflects our unwavering commitment to bring their murderers to justice.”

“This bipartisan legislation rightfully honors the lives of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller,” Shaheen said. “Our message to ISIL is clear: their brutal and barbaric murders will not go unanswered.”

Shaheen and Ayotte introduced similar legislation last Congress, which passed the Senate unanimously. Companion legislation was introduced this week in the House by U.S. Representative Paul Gosar, R-AZ.

The State Department program, started in 1984, has awarded more than $125 million to more than 80 people.

News of the reward came as reports surfaced identifying the “Jihadi John” masked fighter featured in Islamic State beheading videos as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born Briton from a prosperous family who grew up in London and graduated with a computer programming degree, according to the Washington Post.

In videos released by Islamic State (IS), the black-clad militant brandishing a knife and speaking with an English accent appears to have decapitated hostages including Foley, Sotloff, Britons and Syrians.

The Washington Post said Emwazi, who used the videos to threaten the West and taunt leaders such as President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, was believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined IS.

“His real name, according to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming,” the Post said.

British government sources and the police refused to confirm or deny the report, citing a live anti-terrorism investigation, a position mirrored by a spokeswoman for Cameron.

“We don’t confirm or deny matters relating to intelligence,” the spokeswoman said. “I am not going to get into the details of an ongoing police and security investigation.”

National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan issued a statement Thursday, saying the government “continues to investigate the murder of American citizens” by ISIS.

“As the President has said, no matter how long it takes, the United States will not rest until we find and hold accountable the terrorists who are responsible for the murders of our citizens,” said Meehan. “We are working closely with our international partners, including the British government, to do everything we can to bring these murderers to justice.”

A spokesman for the family of Steven Sotloff, an American whose execution allegedly took place at the hands of Jihadi John, said family members are calling for Emwazi to be brought to justice in the United States. Sotloff graduated from New Hampshire’s Kimball Union Academy in Meriden in 2002.

“The Sotloff family was confident law enforcement would find him out and bring him to justice and they have full confidence the U.S. government will be able to do that,” a statement issued by Sotloff’s family says. “The family would like to see him brought to a court in N.Y. or eastern Va. and watch him prosecuted for the beheading of their son and convicted to life in a super max facility. This is how justice is served in this country.”


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Jason Roe