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CNN apologizes for Putin gaffe

Network claims technical glitch caused image of Russian president to appear above the title ‘Jihadi John’

CNN accidentally displayed a picture of Vladmir Putin with a caption reading: “Reports: Jihadi John identified” on February 28, 2015. (screen capture: CNN)
CNN accidentally displayed a picture of Vladmir Putin with a caption reading: “Reports: Jihadi John identified” on February 28, 2015. (screen capture: CNN)

CNN has apologized after accidentally displaying a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a news broadcast revealing the identity of infamous Islamic State executioner “Jihadi John.”

The mistake, which occurred on a Saturday telecast, occurred while CNN London correspondent Matt Foster was discussing the fate of several hostages held by the Islamic State and whether “Jihadi John,” who was identified as Mohammed Emwazi, would ever be brought to justice, according to the UK daily The Telegraph.

A spokesman for CNN told the Russian Tass news agency: “Due to a failure of a video server during today’s breaking news broadcast, a photo of Vladimir Putin, prepared for our next report, was accidentally shown. We apologize for that mistake.”

The identity of Emwazi, a west London resident born in Kuwait, was revealed last week, along with a picture of the wanted jihadist sporting a baseball cap and a goatee; a far cry from the sinister black mask worn during the Islamic State’s gruesome execution videos of journalists James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Kenji Goto and aid workers Alan Henning, David Haines and Abdul-Rahman “Peter” Kassig.

Sky News releases first photo February 27, 2015 of 'Jihadi John,' the Islamic State's infamous British executioner, named by US and UK media as Mohammed Emwazi.
Sky News releases first photo February 27, 2015 of ‘Jihadi John,’ the Islamic State’s infamous British executioner, named by US and UK media as Mohammed Emwazi.

Before fighting for the jihadist group, Emwazi was a model student at the University of Westminster in London, where he studied information systems with business management from 2006 to 2009. He was two modules short before dropping out and later fleeing the United Kingdom to join forces with Sunni rebel groups in Syria.

Jihaid John', later identified as Mohammed Emwazi, as he appeared in an Islamic State video. (screen capture: YouTube/CNN)
‘Jihadi John” later identified as Mohammed Emwazi, as he appeared in an Islamic State video. (screen capture: YouTube/CNN)

He was believed to have radicalized during his studies, as his university was described by some as a “hotbed of radicalism” that had a contingency of extremist students who were claimed to have “celebrated” the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Emwazi was reportedly wanted by the authorities as early as 2011 after being suspected of supporting terrorism overseas and in the UK, according to the Daily Mail. MI5 allegedly tried to recruit him for espionage activities, but were unsuccessful in their attempts.

On Saturday, it emerged that Emwazi told a journalist that he contemplated suicide four years ago, blaming British authorities for an overwhelming amount of “harassment.”

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