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
0

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.


Focus shifts to rescues as rain abates in India’s flood-hit Kerala

Updated 20 August 2018
0

Focus shifts to rescues as rain abates in India’s flood-hit Kerala

  • An estimated 800,000 people have taken shelter in some 4,000 relief camps across Kerala
  • 800,000 people have been displaced and over 350 have died in the worst flooding in a century

KOCHI, India: Torrential rain finally let up in India’s flood-hit Kerala state on Sunday, giving some respite for thousands of marooned families, but authorities feared an outbreak of disease among around 725,000 people crammed into relief camps.
Incessant downpours since Aug. 8 have caused the worst floods in a century in the southwestern state, and close to 200 people have perished in the rising waters and landslides.
The India Meteorological Department forecast heavy rainfall in only one or two parts of Kerala on Sunday and withdrew a red alert in several districts.
Using boats and helicopters, India’s military led rescue efforts to reach people in communities cut off for days, with many trapped on roofs and upper floors, in desperate need of food and clean water.
A Reuters photographer on a naval helicopter said water levels had receded in villages around the city of Kochi.
Rescue teams were focused on the town of Chengannur on the banks of the Pamba River, where about 5,000 people are feared to be trapped, officials said.
Kerala’s chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said the total number of people taking refuge at the 5,645 relief camps had risen to 725,000.
Thirteen deaths were reported on Sunday, he added, taking the total number confirmed to nearly 200.
Anil Vasudevan, who handles disaster management at Kerala’s health department, said authorities had isolated three people with chickenpox in one of the relief camps in Aluva town, nearly 250 km (155 miles) from state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
He said the department was preparing to deal with a possible outbreak of water-borne and air-borne diseases in the camps.

DESTROYED
Kerala, which usually receives high rainfall, has seen more than 250 percent more rain than normal between Aug. 8 and Aug. 15. State authorities have had to release water from 35 dangerously full dams, sending a surge into the main river.
As the rain abated on Sunday morning, 60-year-old T P Johnny visited his home in Cheranelloor — a suburb of Kochi situated on the banks of the Periyar river — to see when he and his family could return.
“The entire house is covered with mud. It will take days to clean to make it liveable. All our household articles, including the TV and fridge have been destroyed,” he told Reuters.
The beaches and backwaters of Kerala are top destinations for domestic and international tourists, but far fewer visit during the monsoon season.
Kochi’s airport is closed due to waterlogging, and Jet Airways has arranged additional flights from Thiruvananthapuram for passengers holding confirmed tickets from Kochi.
India’s national carrier, Air India, will operate ATR flights from the naval airport in Kochi to Bangalore and Coimbatore, starting Monday.
Late on Saturday, the chief minister had said that there was no shortage of food in the state as traders had stocked up before a local festival.
“The only problem is transporting it,” he told reporters. “The central government and public have cooperated well in this effort to fight this disaster.”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates, where many Keralites work, has also offered assistance to the state. Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani has also announced $5 million aid.
($1 = 70.09 Indian rupees)