Newspaper headlines: 'Jihadi John' emails and errors, and Prince William in Japan

Reporters for Sunday newspapers have been hard at work researching the background of Islamic State's "Jihadi John".

Mail on Sunday security editor Robert Verkaik writes about the remarkable insight he was offered into the mind of Mohammed Emwazi, revealing details the Kuwait-born west Londoner sent him in 2010 when he "was already deeply immersed in extremism". The paper says: "Some verge on the paranoid, with frequent complaints that his every move is being shadowed by intelligence officers."

Image copyright Daily Mail

The Mail reproduces excerpts from one email in which Emwazi appears convinced that security services have bought his laptop because the buyer referred to him by his first name, which he claims never to have revealed.

Image copyright Unknown

Meanwhile, for the Observer's Jamie Doward, Emwazi's "unmasking" brought to mind an encounter with one of the jihadist's friends and fellow British extremists. "Tiny, birdlike... the recoil from an AK-47 would knock him off his feet, I remember thinking. He was an unlikely fighter - something he repeatedly denied when questioned by the security services," he writes of the man who's now said to be "building a new life away from the extremist path".

"The second thing was his beard. Long, black and wispy, it had clearly taken months to grow and was central to his identity. The third was his trainers. Nike, almost box-fresh. This man is a walking contradiction, I thought. He spoke with street slang while praising the prophet."

It was a link between Emwazi's old life as a British student and his new role as an Islamist fighter that led security services to identify him, according to the Sunday Express. "The crucial piece of the jigsaw fell into place when Emwazi used a laptop in Syria to download web design software which was being offered on a free trial.

"Instead of buying the software with a credit card, he used a student code from London's Westminster University when he studied computer technology. The number contained unique information which gave his date of birth, what he studied and where."

'Painfully shy'

Other papers continue to rake over Emwazi's past. David Collins travels to the "dirt poor" Taima district of Kuwait City for the Sunday People. There, he finds a crowd outside a mosque asking: "How did one of our own become the world's most wanted man?"

Image copyright Courtesy of Daily Telegraph

He speaks to a man who remembers Emwazi's father, a member of the Bedoon minority treated as illegal immigrants in Kuwait, who says: "They were a nice family... His father was a good man." Some suggest Emwazi's roots in the underclass may have made him susceptible to radicalisation.

The Sunday Mirror revisits Emwazi's schooldays, speaking to classmates about the "painfully shy, nervous guy who wouldn't say boo to a goose" and who was teased so mercilessly about his bad breath that he held a hand in front of his mouth when he talked. The paper says that instead of attending mosque, he "hung out in shisha cafes where he became bewitched by street-wise older Asian men who drove flash cars, smoked cannabis and bragged of womanising".

Another classmate tells the Sun on Sunday that Emwazi "dressed as a gangsta rapper, smoked cannabis and got into fights at school". A former friend tells the paper: "I never saw him pray or wear Islamic dress - he would not even mention religion at all." Meanwhile, the Sunday Times hears that "as a small boy he played a game called 'squeeze and breeze' which involved pinching the bottoms of female classmates and running away", before becoming a "regular London teenager".

However, two other pupils from Emwazi's secondary school - Quintin Kynaston Academy - have since been killed fighting with terrorists abroad, the Sunday Telegraph says.

Eye-catching headlines

  • "Gorillas nearly missed" - film of primates pawing at David Attenborough was nearly "left on the cutting-room floor" as BBC producers feared it "too trivial", says the Independent on Sunday
  • "Euston, we have a problem. It's you" - a railway station's revamp into a "glittering gateway" for high-speed rail has been axed in favour of an extension like a "lean-to shed", says the Sunday Times
  • "Pay & dismay" - parking fees at NHS hospitals are rising despite a government promise to tackle rip-off charges, says the Sunday People
  • "No room in the park? Why not use next door's back garden" - the Observer describes a new scheme aiming to solve the shortage of public space in cities

'One's a Samurai'

Image copyright Reuters

Photographs of Prince William dressing up during his tour of Japan present sub-editors with a golden opportunity for fun with headlines.

Image copyright Reuters

"Ear, one's a Samurai," says the People, which points out the prince "ended up looking like Big Ears" when he donned a Samurai warlord's helmet, thanks to its unusual shape. Noting how he clutched a traditional sword, the Mail offers some advice. "Don't get any ideas William!" it says, adding that the look of a sword-wielding warlord who crucified his rivals is "NOT a model for a modern king, Your Highness".

For the Daily Star Sunday, the prince was simply "crowning around", although it points out - rather uncharitably - that "he revealed his growing bald spot when his headgear was removed". No problem there, according to the Telegraph's Gordon Rayner. He reports that the prince was transformed into a 3D cartoon, "his hair miraculously restored", by some schoolchildren. "'What's happened here?' the Duke smiled, pointing to his avatar. The children laughed sheepishly at his full-headed image," the writer says.

The Mirror pictures the prince wearing "yukata", or kimono-style pyjamas, and sandals alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, under the headline: "Land of the rising son and heir."

However, it's all a bit much for the Express. It asks: "If you're so desperate for you visit to Japan to get attention, William... Why didn't you just take Kate along?"

'Outstanding son'

The shooting dead of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in the shadow of the Kremlin leaves the country's president facing questions, says the Sunday Express. However, it says: "[Vladimir] Putin insists Islamic fanatics assassinated his bitter rival... and vows to catch them." The Sunday Telegraph prints extracts from Mr Nemtsov's final interview, given to radio station Ekho Moskvy hours before he was killed. In it he criticises the president, accusing him of lying about the involvement of Russian troops in the annexation of Crimea and rallying people to an opposition march planned for Sunday.

If readers aren't familiar with the victim, author Edward Lucas fills them in on his friend who "charted the looting of a nation", in the Sunday Times. "I had known him since the late 1990s when he was trying to stem the sleaze and authoritarianism that eventually brought Putin and his ex-KGB cronies to power. Unlike some liberals, Nemtsov saw through Putin from the beginning... and worried about his murky years spent in the city administration of the gangster-ridden St Petersburg."

Image copyright AP

An open letter of tribute - penned One of Mr Nemtsov's co-founders of the People's Freedom Party, Vladimir Milov - is summarised in the Observer. In it, he writes: "Dear Borya. You were an outstanding son of Russia. You gave us hope in the 1990s among this whole crowd of wretched red directors... who were occupied only with the sharing out of Soviet property for their own benefit. In that stormy time, you didn't cream off anything for yourself. We remember all of this."

According to the Mail's Ian Birrell: "Boris Nemstov knew he might one day be silenced... As other opposition leader were jailed, exile or placed under house arrest, he continued to campaign against the former KGB chief who runs his country like a mafia boss. Nemtsov was working on a report highlighting Russia's involvement in the separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine. These were dangerous activities amid the ugly mood of nationalism inflamed by Putin."

The Sunday People urges the West to stand up to the Russian president, arguing: "We do not know, and probably never will, whether Vladimir Putin had a hand in the murder of Boris Nemtsov. But we do know Russia's president is a dangerous bully who intimidates his own people... The only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them." Likewise, the Sunday Mirror warns: "It would be a serious mistake to think that what is happening in Russia doesn't matter to us... How the West deals with Russia may well be the greatest challenge for its leaders. This is no time for Britain to be running down its armed forces and dismantling the Foreign Office's invaluable Russian department."

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