Jihadi John, the Isil terrorist killed in a drone strike in Syria, secretly fathered a son who is entitled to British citizenship and could be brought to live in the UK, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.
Mohammed Emwazi, the real name of the Briton whose identity was confirmed by David Cameron yesterday, was "evaporated" by a Hellfire missile fired from a US Reaper drone after British intelligence analysts located him in the Isil headquarters of Raqqa.
The Prime Minister described the operation as "a strike at the heart" of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, adding that it was an "act of self-defence" and "the right thing to do".
A British drone, operated from Lincolnshire, was involved in the US-led operation but did not fire the fatal missile. There were unconfirmed reports that a second British jihadi had also been killed in the same attack.
Bethany Haines, whose father David was one of two British hostages beheaded by Emwazi, said she felt "an instant sense of relief" at being told he was dead, knowing that "he wouldn't appear in any more horrific videos".
But it has emerged that the Home Office will be powerless to stop Emwazi's Syrian-born son coming to live in Britain at some point in the future. In 2013 Emwazi told his family in a phone call from Syria that he was getting married, according to Whitehall sources.
He later told them he had fathered a son, who is understood to have been born at the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014, meaning he will now be almost two years old.
The identity and nationality of the boy's mother is not known, but Home Office rules make it clear that he is already regarded as British, stating: "British citizenship may descend to one generation born abroad. So a child born abroad to a parent who is British... will automatically be British by descent."
The child's mother, if she is from outside the EU, would have to apply for a visa to be allowed into the country.
Although final confirmation of Emwazi's death is still awaited, sources in the US said they were "99 per cent certain" he had been killed. The security services are on high alert for possible revenge attacks in the UK.
Mr Cameron described Emwazi, 27, as a "barbaric murderer" who had remained a threat to innocent people, "and it will demonstrate to those who would do Britain, our people and our allies harm, we have a long reach, we have an unwavering determination, and we never forget our citizens.
Britain and our allies will not rest until we have defeated this evil terrorist death cult."
Colonel Steve Warren, the US Army spokesman in Iraq, described Emwazi as a "human animal" and added: "Killing him is probably making the world a better place."
The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was mocked by one of his own MPs for saying: "It would have been far better for us all if he had been held to account in a court of law."