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U.S. identifies masked man in beheading videos

WASHINGTON — The U.S. believes it has identified the British-accented masked man in the videos depicting the beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker, the FBI director says.

FBI Director James Comey told reporters at the bureau’s headquarters he would not reveal the man’s name or nationality.

Comey did not address whether the U.S. believes the man actually carried out the killings himself. The beheadings are not shown in the videos.

In the three videos, the man speaks British-accented English. He holds a long knife and appears to begin cutting the three men, American reporters James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines.

In late August, British Ambassador Peter Westmacott said his country was close to identifying the Islamic State group militant.

Also on Thursday, Corney said there are believed to be about a dozen Americans fighting with extremist groups in Syria.

He says more than 100 Americans have either tried to go to Syria and been arrested, gone successfully, or gone and come back. But he isn’t breaking down the numbers any further.

The figure of 100 has often been misinterpreted to represent the number of U.S. citizens fighting in Syria.

Comey says all the Americans who have returned after fighting with extremist groups are either under investigation, under surveillance or have been arrested.

The director says he’s not confident the U.S. has identified every American who had joined up with militants in Syria.

ASSOCIATED PRESS