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Mohammed Emwazi may be dead, but the myth of 'Jihadi John' will endure

Mohammed Emwazi appeared dressed in black and hidden behind a mask.

Does the reported killing of ‘Jihadi John’ make a difference to the fight against so-called Islamic State? In short, not really.

The power and appeal of terrorist groups often wane when high profile figures are taken out. Al-Qaeda, for example, appears to have weakened since Osama bin Laden’s death four years ago. Although many will blame the Arab Spring and the rise of ISIS for that, the death of its leader surely accelerated decline.

There are few parallels with the death of Emwazi – his killing was not a "decapitation" attack on ISIS. Yes, he was the "face" of the organisation, but he was never it’s "brains". There is no evidence, for example, that he was a strategist or senior commander.

He was a propagandist – the most high profile member other than the group’s leader, Ab? Bakr al-Baghd?di. Emwazi's British accent gave a familiar voice to the otherwise alien horrors being watched by the West.

But his death would have no immediate impact on the group’s attempts to win territory and attract recruits; it is unlikely to change the calculus for British citizens who want to travel to Syria to fight.

Potential ISIS recruits are unlikely to be put off by Emwazi's death. Credit: Reuters

Let’s face it: that fighting for ISIS comes with extreme dangers will be no revelation to those considering it.

In fact, it might be argued that as a martyr, he is of even more value to ISIS in its attempts to recruit new militants.

Mohammed Emwazi was the man behind the mask – the Kuwaiti-born, London-educated graduate; "Jihadi John" was the myth around it – the symbol of the horrors of ISIS. Emwazi may be dead, but the myth endures.

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