Need To Know

It’s been a day since the BBC and the Washington Post revealed that the star of the Islamic State’s execution videos is Mohammed Emwazi, a fashionable rich kid who grew up in West London. And in the last 24 hours, all kinds of new and interesting details continue to pile up.

“You may be surprised to know that the Mohammed I knew was extremely kind, extremely gentle, soft-spoken,” said Asim Qureshi, the research director of a rights group that worked with Emwazi before he disappeared. “The person I met would never have hurt a single person.”

Analysts and the media are now parsing how this privileged and apparently stable person went on to be the famous (masked) face of some of the Islamic State’s most horrifying public displays. Some have looked at the University of Westminster, where “Jihadi John” went to school. The university had drawn criticism in the past because some students there openly supported groups affiliated with terrorism.

But Emwazi radicalized after graduating, the school’s former vice president pointed out on Twitter. “If you’re looking for the causes of his radicalization, perhaps you ought to scrutinize foreign policy and the role of the MI5,” he added.

The British spy agency “repeatedly harassed” Emwazi, according to Qureshi. He was also barred several times from returning to his native country of Kuwait. Did that push him into the welcoming arms of a terrorist organization?

Want To Know

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott isn’t a very well-liked world leader. His own party tried to oust him from office earlier this month. That was largely because most of his key policies are so unpopular he’s made almost no progress on the conservative agenda.

He also tends to say things he probably shouldn’t. Like when he said coal was “good for humanity,” and was globally mocked. And when he announced he wanted to give Britain’s Prince Philip the honorific of “knight,” and was globally mocked.

Indonesians are well aware of this. But that didn’t stop them from collectively freaking out when Tony Abbot insinuated that Indonesia owes Australia because Australia gave a lot of aid to Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami. He said this amid a heated diplomatic effort to stop Indonesia from executing Australian drug smugglers. It backfired terribly, of course. And now there’s a social media effort in Indonesia to raise money to pay back Australia. Indonesia’s president, meanwhile, has made it quite clear he will not stay the executions.

Strange But True

Last summer, Israel’s 50-day military operation against Hamas in Gaza killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and turned much of Gaza City into rubble. Seventy-two Israelis also died, including 67 soldiers. This dominated world headlines.

“You'd think that kind of devastation would be hard to forget. Apparently not,” writes GlobalPost’s Timothy McGrath. Of more than $5 billion in pledged aid to rebuild Gaza, only about $300 million has been delivered.

Enter world famous graffiti artist Bansky, who has made this powerful reminder.