Great Britain is again shaken by the possibility that one of the bloodiest terrorists will walk freely through the streets of London this week. The call “ISIS fourth Beatle” or “jihadi Paul”, Aine Davis, was extradited from Turkey to Britain and could be released in the next few hours. Davis was part of a group of British-born jihadists who tortured and beheaded at least 27 hostages by the Islamic extremist group in Syria, most of them journalists and humanitarian workers.
Davis served a seven-and-a-half-year sentence in a high-security prison in Turkey and cannot be tried twice for the same crimes. Therefore, this 38-year-old man, a Muslim convert and radicalized in prison while serving a sentence for drug trafficking, could resume his “normal” life in the coming days, beyond the fact that for a while have limited movement, need to wear an electronic bracelet and cannot see your old friends from the mosque.
His ex-wife assures that she is not going to receive him at home and that she does not even want to see him. The woman, Amal el-Wahabi, was convicted in 2014 of financing terrorism and sentenced to 28 months in prison for try to send him 20,000 euros in cash after he left the UK to join the Islamic State. An old school friend of El-Wahabi, who had tried to pass the money on her underwear, was acquitted. “I don’t want to have anything to do with him. We haven’t seen each other in years and I don’t want to see him again.”Amal assured The Telegraph.
Relatives of the victims and experts on terrorism they question the fact that Davis was not withdrawn British nationality, which would have prevented his deportation. His father is from Gambia and his family sent him at the age of five to live with his grandmother because she “drives the mother crazy”. He spent his childhood and adolescence in the African country, and he returned to London when he was 17. Lord Carlile de Berriew, who was an independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said: “Based on the information we have he could have been deported to The Gambia, I am surprised that this person is simply allowed to return to the UK and we can’t do anything about it except spend huge sums of money to keep an eye on it”. The British Home Office said that “if Davis is deemed to pose a threat to national security, will be subjected to the full range of investigative tools necessary to protect the public from it.
Davis and the other three “ISIS Beatles” grew up in west london and were indoctrinated in two mosques by radicalized clerics. In 2013 they volunteered to fight with the terrorist group that came to dominate a huge territory between Syria and Iraq. Once in the self-styled ISIS emirate, the four Britons were assigned to obtaining information, surveillance of kidnapped foreigners and their execution by beheading They recorded on video and uploaded to social networks.
The group beheaded at least 27 people. Hostages also recall being tortured with electric shocks, drowning, and mock executions. “They were thugs without any knowledge of what religion is,” was the definition of the correspondent of the newspaper El Mundo of Spain and former hostage, Javier Espinosa.
The leader of the group was Mohammed Emwazi, nicknamed “Jihadi John”. He appeared in several videos executing hostages with a knife. Born in Kuwait, his family moved to the UK in 1988 when he was six years old. He studied computer programming at the University of Westminster and graduated in 2009. By 2014 he was already performing in Syria and was shown as the executioner in the beheadings of American photojournalists James Foley and Steven Joel Sotloffwhich occurred on August 19 and September 2 of that year, and in that of the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto in March 2015. On August 23 of that year, a new video appeared in which for the first time he showed his face threatening to return to Great Britain “to chop off heads”. On November 12, 2015, Emwazi was hit by a missile launched from an unmanned drone in what was a joint American and British intelligence operation. It happened in Raqqa, the self-styled capital of the emirate. The Islamic State confirmed his death in January 2016.
Alexandra Kotey, 38, aka “Jihadi George”, He is of Ghanaian and Greek Cypriot origin, lived in West London and attended the Al Manaar Mosque with Emwazi. For years he dedicated himself to selling drugs in his London neighborhood of Shepard’s Bush. When he joined ISIS he left behind two very young children from two different mothers. The hostages who survived the captivity of “the Beatles” assure that Kotey was the most brutal in interrogations. With the emirate crumbling, Kotey tried to escape to Turkey, but was caught by Syrian Democratic Forces militiamen and handed over to US authorities.
With him, at the time of capture, was El Shafee Elsheikh, baptized by his hostages as Jihadi Ringothe son of Sudanese refugees who came to Britain in the 1980s. Elsheikh was the first of the four to travel to Syria in 2012 and joined the Al Qaeda terrorist network before swearing allegiance to ISIS. In October 2020, Elsheikh and Kotey were brought to the United States to stand trial. In April 2022, after a three-week trial, they were found guilty of hostage-taking and conspiracy to commit murder. They are serving a life sentence.
Davis was arrested by Turkish police in November 2015 while was enjoying a luxurious life in a residence on the beach of Silivri, west of Istanbull. The villa had been rented by Kamran Faridi, a Pakistani-American who worked for the US FBI. They found him in that “safe house” along with five other ISIS members who had managed to cross the border. He was tried and sentenced for breaking Turkish laws on migration and association with terrorists. He ended up serving a light sentence.
The compulsory extradition of Davis once again poses to Great Britain and the other European countries, whose citizens joined the terrorist groups, the dilemma of what to do with them when they return. Security services and anti-terrorist police meet with battle-hardened Islamist fighters who can no longer be sentenced to new jail terms. The only thing left for them to do is ride a huge security apparatus to keep them under surveillance permanently. The other measure, which is to take away their British nationality, was achieved only in 37 cases of the hundreds presented.
The most notable of these cases is that of Shamima Begum, the former student who fled to Syria to join the Islamic State in 2015 at just 15 years old along with two teenage friends, both later murdered. Begum was born in East London, the daughter of parents of Bangladeshi origin. When the ISIS caliphate fell went to a refugee camp in Syria. The then British Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, revoked his British citizenship, arguing that he could opt for Bangladesh. There was a legal battle that reached the Supreme Court which ended up agreeing with the minister. Begum is still in Syria and cannot return to London.
In Davis’s case, it is unclear why he is allowed to remain a British citizen. It probably existed some sort of arrangement at the time of arrest and their lawyers exchanged the possibility of keeping their nationality in exchange for information. The truth is “jihadi Paul” would pass through London in the coming days and the relatives of his victims could cross paths with him in some corner of Hammersmith, the London neighborhood on the banks of the Thames where he will probably live.
The United States killed the leader of ISIS in Syria in an aerial operation