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.


Floods close airport in Indian tourist hotspot of Kerala

Updated 1 min 10 sec ago
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Floods close airport in Indian tourist hotspot of Kerala

KOCHI: Flights in and out of the Indian tourist hotspot of Kerala were canceled for three days Wednesday as severe monsoon flooding ravaged the region.
At least 39 people have been killed in the past three weeks and more than 50,000 displaced in an area famed for its palm-lined beaches and tea plantations.
Authorities have opened the gates of 34 reservoirs as water reached dangerous levels.
Hundreds of villages have been flooded and the military has been called in to help with rescues.
More than 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) of roads and hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged across the state, officials said.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office announced on Twitter that Kochi International Airport — the main gateway to the region — would be closed until Saturday “due to heavy rains and resultant flooding.”
A Kerala State Disaster Management Authority official said that the death toll was expected to rise.
A heavy rainfall “red-alert” has been issued across much of the state, which is home to around 33 million people, the official added.
“Our state is in the midst of an unprecedented flood havoc,” Vijayan said earlier this week. “The calamity has caused immeasurable misery and devastation.”
The US embassy last week advised Americans to avoid Kerala, which drew more than one million foreign tourists last year, according to official data.