Fam­ily of ‘Bea­tles’ ji­hadist fled from ex­trem­ists to UK

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Steve Bird

ONE of the Bri­tish “Bea­tles” ji­hadists cap­tured in Syria af­ter fight­ing with Isil had him­self fled per­se­cu­tion from Is­lamic ex­trem­ists as a child, The Sun­day Tele­graph can re­veal.

El Shafee El­sheikh is from of a fam­ily of five who fled hard­line Mus­lims tar­get­ing lib­eral in­tel­lec­tu­als in their home coun­try of Su­dan.

Rashid Si­dahmed El­sheikh, his fa­ther, had es­caped from Su­dan with Maha, his then wife, and their three chil­dren in the Nineties, fear­ing his lib­eral views put them in dan­ger with the then pro-ji­hadist gov­ern­ment.

In 2015, Mr El­sheikh, a trans­la­tor and poet, gave an in­ter­view ex­plain­ing how he had fled the north African coun­try due to civil war and found refuge in Lon­don. De­spite the fam­ily’s har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of Is­lamic ex­trem­ism, two of Mr El­sheikh’s three sons ended up join­ing Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant.

Shafee went to Syria in 2012 and be­came a mem­ber of the in­fa­mous “Bea­tles”, while Mah­moud, the youngest, was killed fight­ing near Tikrit in 2015.

Af­ter his youngest son’s death, Mr El­sheikh said he was “dev­as­tated”, adding that he be­lieved both his chil­dren had been “brain­washed” while grow­ing up in west Lon­don.

He said he be­lieved the young­sters’ abil­ity to em­pathise with peo­ple had been “numbed” hav­ing been told by Is­lamic ex­trem­ists that they were do­ing the duty of god.

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