August 25, 2014 3:41 pm
Updated: August 26, 2014 3:41 am

Is James Foley’s killer a British rapper-turned-jihadist?

British media reports indicate investigators are close to identifying a British citizen believed to be heard in the video depicting the video of journalist James Foley being murdered.

Screen grab via Al-Furqan on YouTube/Storyful

A British rapper-turned-jihadist is the apparent lead suspect in the savage beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, according to media reports.

London’s Sunday Times over the weekend reported intelligence officials have pinpointed a “key suspect” in the 40-year-old’s murder, which was captured on video and posted online.

The Times and other outlets have suggested the suspect is Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary.

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Details of Bary’s background appeared in the Sunday Times, including that the 23-year-old lived in his family’s $1.82-million home in West London until last year, that he was once an aspiring rapper and that his Twitter account was suspended after he posted an image of himself holding a severed head.

The Sunday Times cited an unnamed security official saying investigators are close to identifying the suspect, but the source did not say for certain it was Bary who was heard speaking with a London accent in the video of Foley’s murder.

Bary is known by a few different nicknames and monikers: as a rapper he went by L Jinny or Lyricist Jinn, but as a militant with the Islamic State he was dubbed Jailer John by prisoners — referring to him and two other British militants as “The Beatles” — and later “Jihadi John” in the British press.

Foreign Policy wrote Bary is believed to be one of “at least 500 British citizens likely to be fighting with the Islamic State” — the group that has violently taken over a significant span of territory in Iraq and Syria and has been accused of committing mass killings.

The Islamic State was previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS, and was an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Bary’s transformation from London rapper to alleged extremist murderer happened in a relatively short time, but his rap videos could be key tools in determining if he’s indeed the man with the London accent seen beheading Foley.

According to the Independent, a sound expert who listened to both the footage of Foley’s murder and Bary’s rap songs said there was a “big likeness” in the voices heard in both videos.

READ MORE: Voice-recognition, social media may be key to identifying militant in Foley video

His father, an Egyptian refugee named Adel Abdul Bary, is an alleged al-Qaeda operative who is now imprisoned in the U.S. and awaiting trial for alleged involvement in the twin U.S. embassy bombings, in Kenya and Tanzania, in 1998. The U.S. extradited him from the U.K. in 2012, according to the Independent.

He rapped about his father’s arrest, which happened that year when Bary was only six years old, in one of his songs.

“I swear the day they came and took my dad, I coulda killed a cop or two and I wouldn’t look back. Imagine back then, I was only six. So picture what I’d do now with a loaded stick,” he rapped in the song “The Beginning.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Bary was “indoctrinated” by cleric Anjem Choudary, who called media allegations he radicalized the young man “dishonest.”

But, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, Bary “grew increasingly radical and violent after mixing with people linked” to Choudary.

He reportedly decided to give up his rap music aspirations last year, saying ” I have left everything for the sake of Allah.”

Although officials would not comment on the investigation, the Independent reported “police are believed to be preparing for raids on several homes across Britain in efforts to trace ‘Jihadi John.'”

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