A UK medical student was last night suspected of being in an Islamic State killing squad that murdered 17 hostages.
The father of Nasser Muthana said the 20-year-old appeared to be among 16 jihadists who were filmed beheading Syrian soldiers in the desert.
The sickening video that was on YouTube for an hour yesterday morning also shows the decapitated body of Peter Kassig, a 26-year-old American aid worker.
Ahmed Muthana said: ‘I cannot be certain but it looks like my son. He must fear Allah now for killing people. How can he expect to face Allah if he is killing human beings?’
Asked if he would forgive his son if he returned home to Cardiff, the 57-year-old replied: ‘No, he must be mentally ill – either that or there is something else not right.’
Analysts believe the murder video is an attempt by Islamic State to provoke the West into an all-out assault and ‘final battle’.
As Jihadi John, the British leader of the killing squad, warned David Cameron of slaughter on our streets:
The former Chief of the General Staff said Britain may need to ‘think the unthinkable’ and send ground troops to take on Islamic State forces;
Mr Cameron said the beheadings underlined the ‘deplorable depths’ the ‘depraved’ terrorists were prepared to go to;
The acts were described as ‘13th-century barbarism’ by former PM John Major;
Friends of Mr Kassig said he may have refused to make a propaganda statement before he was murdered;
Barack Obama described Mr Kassig’s murder as an ‘act of pure evil’.
Speaking with his distinct British accent, John issued a blood curdling threat to slaughter people on the streets of Britain.
The Foreign Office said yesterday it was investigating unconfirmed claims that John had been recently wounded in an airstrike by the Americans.
It is unclear when the horrific but slickly-produced film was shot but it is markedly more graphic than previous videos and the final act of beheading a long line of hostages is not blacked out. Mr Kassig, who converted to Islam in captivity, becomes the fifth Western victim to be beheaded.
Last night, the former Chief of the General Staff, Lord Dannatt, said: ‘We need to keep all options open if we are to defeat IS. Are we just going to wish this away, or are we going to take action?’
The Foreign Office confirmed they were ‘looking into’ claims that Muthana, who left his family to train with extremists in Syria, was one of the militants in the footage.
Muthana was exposed as a terrorist in training after he appeared in a recruitment video for the insurgent group in June, devastating the family he left behind in Cardiff after it was circulated on the internet.
A prospective medical student, he was joined in Syria by his younger brother Aseel, 17, who has spoken of his willingness to die fighting. After arriving in the country, Muthana threatened to use his terror ‘skills’ when he returned to the UK.
Charlie Winter, from the Qulliam Think Tank, said: ‘It looks like Nasser Muthana is in the video. The video is far more graphic than other videos. It is reflective of perhaps IS trying to be defiant in the face of increased pressure.
‘Things aren’t going well for them at the moment and this is a message of defiance and provocation.’
In the video, John branded the Obama administration as ‘liars’ for not withdrawing from Iraq, adding: ‘The spark has been lit here in Iraq and its heat will continue to intensify by Allah’s permission until it burns the crusader army in Dabiq.
‘And here we are, burying the first crusader in Dabiq. Eagerly awaiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive.’
Analysts said the change of video location to Dabiq – and not somewhere on the outskirts of Raqqa as before – suggested that John and hostages were being moved frequently to avoid coalition air strikes and to thwart rescue attempts.
A friend of Mr Kassig said the lack of a statement suggested he had defied his captors.
Michael Downey, a close friend from Beirut, said: ‘I think he refused. He was a man of principle and wouldn’t give into intimidation from thugs. He never took the easy route.’