The family of Mohammed Emwazi are being guarded by armed police in a security operation costing more than £5,000 a day after being moved to a secret location funded by the taxpayer, The Times has reported.
His mother, brother and three of his sisters fled the family home in northwest London two weeks ago when they realised that journalists had identified Emwazi as “Jihadi John”, the Islamic State killer.
Officers from Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism command are providing round-the-clock security amid reports that Emwazi’s mother, Ghaneya, immediately recognised her son when she watched a documentary about the beheading of James Foley, an American journalist.
The family have been receiving an estimated £40,000 a year in benefits since they sought asylum in London in 1993.
When the family realised their son’s identity was about to be exposed they left their £600,000 flat in St John’s Wood, where their rent is paid by City of Westminster Council. They moved to a property in Paddington, west London, close to the families of other jihadists fighting in Syria.
However, the location was discovered when Emwazi’s brother, Omar, 21, was spotted by a television crew. The family were moved to a new location, which is believed to be a hotel, where they are living under assumed names.
Emwazi’s mother and brother are staying with his sisters Asra, 19, and Shayma, 23, both students, and a 12-year-old sister who is still at school. His father, Jasem, 51, and sister Asma, 25, are in Kuwait.
None of Emwazi’s family are suspected of wrongdoing but police are believed to be questioning them about their contact with him since he moved to Syria and his network of friends while in London. Jasem Emwazi has reportedly told security officials in Kuwait that he and his wife knew their son had travelled to Syria and recognised him from Islamic State propaganda videos.
Philip Davies, a Tory MP, said many members of the public would be angry that the family were receiving such expensive protection but said the police were in an “impossible position”. He said: “I understand why people would find it offensive that all these resources are being deployed but at the same time if the police have information that the family is at risk, they have a duty to provide protection. They are not responsible for [Emwazi’s] actions.”
A Scotland Yard spokeswoman refused to discuss what security arrangements were in place for the family.
Emwazi’s father insisted yesterday there was no proof that his son was the Islamic State murderer — days after apparently denouncing him as a terrorist. Mr Emwazi issued a statement in Kuwait threatening legal action against anyone connecting his family to the Isis killer, who has appeared in videos of five beheadings. Friends of the family said that Mr Emwazi had moved close relatives into a safe house in the Gulf state and was in hiding because of “lies” about them in the press.
Mr Emwazi said through his lawyer: “I am not sure that [Jihadi John] is my son. There is no proof that the man shown in the videos and photographs is my son, as the media has reported in the last few days.”
Security sources in Kuwait said British police were expected to interview Mr Enwazi, who has a UK passport. The father’s denial contradicts reports that the family were devastated after a call from Emwazi, telling them he was heading to Syria.
Mr Emwazi reportedly denounced his son to colleagues this week as “a dog” and “a terrorist” whom he could no longer control.
Security experts have compared recordings of Emwazi’s voice from 2009 to that of the killer in the videos and are convinced they are the same man.