Arab News profiles four Daesh extremists who became known as the ‘Beatles Cell’

An undated image made available on Jan. 27, 2016 and published in the 15th edition of Daesh’s online Arabic-language magazine Al-Naba allegedly shows Daesh militant Mohammed Emwaz - known as ‘Jihadi John’ in western media. (AFP)
Updated 09 February 2018
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Arab News profiles four Daesh extremists who became known as the ‘Beatles Cell’

Arab News profiles the four Daesh extremists who became known as the ‘Beatles Cell’. They all grew up far away from the battlefields and hardship of Syria and Iraq and hailed from West London.

- El Shafee Elsheikh, 29: Was born in Sudan, the middle of three sons, but arrived in Britain in the early 1990s when his family fled their homeland. He grew up in White City, where he worked as a mechanic mending funfair machinery and supported Queen’s Park Rangers football team. He was influenced by the sermons of a West London imam and left for Syria at the beginning of 2012. His father described his son’s radicalization as “lightning-fast”. In Syria, Elsheikh gained a reputation for using waterboarding, mock executions and crucifixion as to torture captives. His younger brother, Mahmoud, followed him to the war zone and was killed fighting for Daesh in Iraq last year. He was 17.
- Alexanda Kotey, 34: Half Ghanaian and half-Cypriot and grew up as a Greek Orthodox Christian in the Paddington area of London. A father-of-two and a convert to Islam in his late teens or early 20s, the US identified him as a cell member in Jan. 2017. According to the State Department it is likely that he took part in executions and used “exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electric shock and waterboarding.” He also acted as a recruiter for Daesh, persuading several other Britons to join the ”cause.”
L-R: Alexanda Kotey, El-Shafee Elsheikh, Mohammed Emwazi and Aine Davis

- Mohamed Emwazi: Was the cell’s most notorious member. Nicknamed Jihadi John, he was the black-masked figure who posed in videos, speaking with an unmistakably British accent and brandishing a large knife with which he beheaded his captives. He was born in Kuwait and moved to Britain as a child, where he attended state schools and went on to study computer science at the University of Westminster. He left for Syria in 2013. He murdered American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and was himself killed in an airstrike in 2015. He never showed his face publicly but is thought to have been in his mid-20s.
- Aine Davis: Grew up in Hammersmith, West London, the son of a school dinner lady and a shop assistant who worked in John Lewis, favorite department store of the middle classes. A known drug dealer, he served time in jail in 2006 for possession of a firearm. It is believed he converted to Islam in prison and befriended Emwazi because they prayed at the same West London mosque. He took the name Hamza and it is believed he went to Syria in 2012, leaving behind four children born to two different women.
He was tried and convicted of terrorism by a Turkish court last May and is now serving seven-and-half years. He denies he is a member of Daesh, saying he went to Syria to fight oppression.


Saudi crown prince’s visit to Pakistan raises hopes for trade boost

Updated 12 min 56 sec ago
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Saudi crown prince’s visit to Pakistan raises hopes for trade boost

  • Experts say the strong strategic and defense relationship needs to be extended to trade cooperation

ISLAMABAD: The Saudi crown prince’s visit to Pakistan must be utilized to open new avenues of cooperation between the staunch allies, Pakistani analysts said.

Mohammed bin Salman is expected to bring with him a record investment package, including a $10 billion refinery and oil complex in the deepwater Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.

Former Pakistani diplomat Javed Hafeez said bilateral relations have so far mostly revolved around defense and strategic cooperation, but there is a need to “diversify” and focus on trade and economic cooperation.

“Trade between both Islamic countries is minimal, and this needs to be enhanced to the fullest,” Hafeez told Arab News. 

There is huge potential for Pakistan to increase its exports of food items, garments, medicines and sports goods to the Kingdom, he said.

“The crown prince’s visit is good news for Pakistan, as this shows Saudi Arabia’s close association and love for our people,” Hafeez added. 

The crown prince has emerged as “one of the most influential figures in the Muslim world,” and his visit to Pakistan will “definitely open new avenues of cooperation between both countries,” Hafeez said. 

Last year, Saudi Arabia agreed to give Pakistan $3 billion in foreign currency support for a year, and a further loan worth up to $3 billion in deferred payments for oil imports to help stave off a current account crisis. Pakistan has so far received $3 billion in cash.

Rasul Bukhsh Rais, professor of political science, said the crown prince’s visit is a “welcome move at a time when Pakistan is struggling to improve its image as a peaceful country in the international community.”

Rais added that Islamabad should include Saudi Arabia as a third partner in the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which aims to turn Pakistan into a major route linking western China to the world.

“Saudi Arabia can easily connect to China and Central Asian states by using Pakistan’s strategic location in the region,” he said. “Wider economic cooperation between these countries will help the whole region prosper.”

International affairs analyst Zafar Nawaz Jaspal said the crown prince’s visit will help expand bilateral relations and accelerate much-needed trade and economic cooperation.

“The crown prince’s visit … will help materialize numerous investment projects in Pakistan,” Jaspal added. “In today’s world, mutual economic association and bilateral trade … are considered to be a yardstick to determine the depth of the (Saudi-Pakistani) relationship.”