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.


Taliban urges Britain to not send more troops to Afghanistan

Updated 36 min 34 sec ago
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Taliban urges Britain to not send more troops to Afghanistan

  • Britain’s Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson recommended sending up to 400 reinforcements to Afghanistan, joining the 600 already there
  • Taliban said in the past 17 years British troops had failed to defeat the Taliban, just as the British Empire failed to conquer Afghanistan in the 19th century

KABUL: Taliban guerrillas urged Britain on Sunday to stop sending troops to the protracted conflict in Afghanistan and avoid further involvement in the “futile and failed” US war.

Last week, Britain’s Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson recommended sending up to 400 more army personnel to Afghanistan to join the 600 already there. The reinforcements will be deployed in training Afghan soldiers, who have faced the brunt of Taliban’s deadly attacks in recent years, following a drastic reduction in foreign forces.

The move follows calls by US President Donald Trump and NATO for allies to send more troops as the resurgent Taliban have made some in-roads despite offensives announced under Trump’s new Afghan war strategy in the middle of last year.

“The British government is once again sending troops to Afghanistan, even though the results of the current and former invasion of our homeland by Britain are such admonitory chapters in our history that contain a lot of lessons for the heedful,” the Taliban said in a statement emailed to the media.

It added that the experience of the past 17 years of US-led war, which began with the overthrow of the Taliban from power, demonstrated there was no military solution to the conflict, nor can a regime be enforced in the country through the bombardment, it said.

The statement said that over the past 17 years British troops had failed to defeat the Taliban, just as it had failed to conquer Afghanistan in the 19th century during the various bloody incursions of the British Empire.

A Taliban spokesman contacted by Arab News said the group has no contact with Britain, either direct or indirect, but said Britain could speak to the Taliban’s political office if it had concern.

The British Embassy could not be reached for comment at the time of writing of this article.

The Taliban has repeatedly turned down requests for negotiations with Britain although it has shown readiness to talk with the US. The group has demanded the withdrawal of all of foreign troops.