El Shafee Elsheikh: The ISIS Beatle known as ‘Ringo’, who grew up in west London and went to Syria | World News

El Shafee Elsheikh: The ISIS Beatle known as ‘Ringo’, who grew up in west London and went to Syria | World News

El Shafee Elsheikh, known to his victims as “Ringo”, grew up in White City, west London, after his family arrived from Sudan in 1993 when he was five.

His father was a communist and part-time poet who worked as a translator and opposed the Islamist dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir in his home country.

The couple had two other sons but his father split from his mother, two years after their arrival in Britain.

After finishing school, Elsheikh went to Acton College to study engineering and then worked in a local car garage, as well as fixing rides at the visiting funfair on Shepherd’s Bush Green.

Elsheikh, known to friends as “Shaf”, supported Queen’s Park Rangers football team and spent three years, from the age of 11, with the Army Cadet Force.

In 2008, at the age of 19, he was involved in a fight on the council estate where he lived which left him with multiple stab wounds in his back, side, and torso.

His older brother, Khalid, tracked down the attacker, a local drug dealer, and got into a fight which left him with part of his ear bitten off, according to police reports.

On Christmas Eve, Nathan Harris, a 15-year-old friend of Khalid’s, arranged the shooting of the dealer, Craig Brown, 20, as he unloaded shopping from the boot of his car on the estate.

Harris, who went by the street name Money, was found guilty of murder. Khalid was acquitted but sentenced to 10 years in jail for possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Meanwhile, Elsheikh grew his beard and took to dressing in long black robes, spending his days distributing Islamist literature and perfumes outside Shepherd’s Bush Market.

Read more:
Who is IS ‘Beatle’ El Shafee Elsheikh and what did we find out at his trial?

Elsheikh left Britain on 27 April 2012, while his mother was in Sudan, flying to Malmo in Sweden on Ryanair with no return ticket.

He travelled to nearby Copenhagen in Denmark and then caught another flight to Turkey on 30 April and then a third flight to Adana in Southern Turkey from where he crossed into Syria on 1 May.

In Syria he was known and as Abu Thabit, bought an AK-47 assault rifle and was trained by Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda franchise in Syria, before switching his allegiance to ISIS.

He was joined in Syria, in late August, by his friends from west London, Mohammed Emwazi – who became known as “Jihadi John” – and Alexanda Kotey – known to the hostages as “George.”

How police chased evidence to link the ‘Beatles’ together

Scotland Yard revealed this week how they identified Elsheikh and Kotey after one of their freed hostages remembered a conversation in which they talked of being arrested after a confrontation with the right-wing English Defence League (EDL).

Police identified an EDL counter-demonstration against a march by the extremist group Muslims Against Crusades, to mark the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, which began at the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square.

There were a number of flashpoints around central London and at around 6.30pm police were called to the Tyburn public house in Marble Arch where stabbings had taken place and a number of men were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attack, including Kotey and Elsheikh.

Police then discovered Elsheikh’s phone number on Emwazi’s phone, which they had downloaded when he was charged with a series of bicycle thefts in September 2010.

Another crucial piece of evidence linking Elsheikh directly to terrorist activity in Syria came as a result of officers taking a fresh look at evidence in a second arrest of Khalid Elsheikh, this time in 2014, for possession of a handgun.

His mobile phone included a voice message from Elsheikh in Syria that was compared with his police interview from 2009 and matched the recording.

Following their detention in Syria, Elsheikh’s mother Maha Elgizouli, fought a legal battle to try and prevent her son going on trial in the US by stopping Britain sharing the results of its investigation. The case was eventually dismissed when America agreed not to impose the death penalty.

Elsheikh pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnap, conspiracy to murder and providing material support to terrorism but he refused to give evidence and was found guilty following a trial in April.

Kotey pleaded guilty to all counts and was sentenced to life in jail.

Emwazi from Queen’s Park, West London, was killed at the age of 27 in a US drone attack on 12 November 2015.


Recommended For You