Two Men Who Left Shepherd's Bush to Join Islamic State Captured

The QPR supporters were members of the terror cell dubbed the 'Beatles’

Alexanda Kotey (left) and El Shafee Elsheikh (right)


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Two men who grew up in the Shepherd’s Bush area and went off to fight with Islamic State (IS) have been captured by US-backed forces in Syria.

Alexanda Kotey, aged 34, and El Shafee Elsheikh, aged 29, were the last two members of a cell nicknamed the Beatles because they all spoke with British accents. According to US officials the group was responsible for the beheading of at least 27 hostages and the torture of many more.

They are believed to have been detained more than a week ago but the US asked their captors to keep the news secret to allow them to be questioned on the whereabouts of remaining hostages.

US state department officials told the New York Times that Kotey took part in the torture of hostages and El Shafee Elsheikh was responsible for guarding prisoners and subjected them to waterboarding and mock executions.

El Shafee Elsheikh was born in the Sudan but grew up in White City and supports QPR. At one point he preached from a stall outside Shepherd's Bush Tube Station. He studied engineering at Acton College then worked as a mechanic and on the funfair when it visited Shepherd's Bush Green. His youngest brother Mahmoud also joined IS as and was killed in Tikrit, Iraq, in April 2015.

His father, Rashid Sidahmed ElSheikh, a translator, told the Guardian his son had travelled to Syria to fight for jihadists at the start of 2012. He described his son’s radicalisation as "lightning fast". His mother, Maha Elgizouli, told The Washington Post, that his radicalization was extremely fast after he began following the preaching of a West London imam, Hani al-Sibai.

" My kids were perfect, and one day it suddenly happened," she said. She approached al-Sibai and slapped him, asking: "What have you done to my son?"

She said she had no idea that her son was a member of the ISIS 'Beatles' and added, " That boy now is not my son. That is not the son I raised."

Alexanda Kotey, has been described as the terror cell’s leader. Known as Alexe, has been described by neighbours in West London as a quiet man who was a dedicated QPR fan. Kotey, who has two children still living in London, is also believed to be connected to the 'London Boys' a network of extremists who played five-a-side football in west London and who have been linked to the 7/7 London bombings and the subsequent failed 21/7 plot.

Both of the men Christians who became Muslim converts met Emwazi at the Al-Manaar mosque in Ladbroke Grove, where their extremist views led to them being marginalised.

It is understood that both men have had their citizenship rescinded at it is thought unlikely at this stage that they will return to the UK.

Mohammed Emwazi who was another member of the group was killed in a drone strike in 2015. Dubbed ‘Jihadi John’ he had featured in IS videos beheading hostages including British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning. Aine Davis, who was also from West London, was the fourth member of the group. He was convicted of being a senior member of IS after being arrested in Istanbul. He is currently being held in a Turkish prison.

February 9, 2018

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