'Jihadi John' neighbours shocked at boy-next-door turned 'monster'
Neighbours of Mohammed Emwazi, the Londoner targeted in an air strike in Syria, expressed disbelief Friday over the quiet young man's transformation into a ruthless Islamic State militant.
The last known address for the militant and his family before he left for Syria in 2013 is an unassuming, modern, red-brick block of 12 apartments in North Kensington, a residential area of west London.
"If it's really him (who's) been executing people with no mercy, no humanity, he deserves it, but really, he should have been captured," said a 47-year-old man who gave his name as James.
"He might have some information that we need for the safety of the country," he said, adding: "I hope they will get all of these terrorists."
An elderly male neighbour, who declined to give his name, voiced surprise at Friday's news about Emwazi.
"When they were there, I saw them coming in and out but I don't know when they moved out. I didn't know them," he said.
"I was shocked to hear the news. But what can you do? That's life."
The Emwazis' old four-bedroom flat is now occupied by foreign students and young people, who still occasionally receive water bills addressed to them.
Some of the neighbours still remember seeing him around -- and cannot comprehend how he became "Jihadi John".
"Why did he do that? They say he's a very intelligent boy. How did he turn evil?" James said.
"I can't believe someone comes to western Europe, where you don't see guns and stabbing people -- how did he turn into a monster?"
James suggested Emwazi was not always prone to violence, having witnessed him standing by as his brother was involved in a fight outside.
"He was strange, he stood about and allowed them to fight," said James, who would sometimes see Emwazi out on a bicycle wearing traditional Islamic dress.
"I said: 'Why did you allow your brother to get beaten? Why didn't you do something?' He said to me, 'Not bothered'. He stood about just watching."
© 2015 AFP