My son the ISIS executioner

BuzzFeed reports: When El Shafee Elsheikh was a little boy, after his father had left, his mother would find him at the workbench by the summerhouse at the bottom of the garden in White City, west London, tinkering endlessly with engine motors, bicycle parts, and old computers. Elsheikh was slight and elfin-featured, with wide almond eyes and pointed ears under a cloud of dark curls. He cut a sombre figure, intently turning the parts over in his small hands, finding out what made things work, how to fix them when they got broken. On warm nights, his mother says, he liked to sleep alone down here, in the makeshift old wooden summerhouse with a sheet drawn over the door.

Years later, in 2011, when Elsheikh had a grown into a striking young man in his early twenties, his mother found him here skulking with his CD player, listening to a torrent of hate. The words streaming out of his headphones, when she snatched them from him, were those of the notorious al-Qaeda-affiliated west London preacher Hani al-Sibai. By now Elsheikh had qualified as a mechanical engineer and was earning his living fixing cars and fairground rides. He was quiet, studious, and devoted to his family, and he made his mother proud. But on that day in the garden, she says, she feared for the first time that she was losing him to an ideology she did not understand.

Now, five years on, Maha Elgizouli stands down here by the summerhouse, struggling to conceive of how the son she still calls her “little one” turned into one of the world’s most wanted terrorists. Elsheikh has just been identified by BuzzFeed News and the Washington Post as a member of the notorious ISIS execution cell of four British guards known as the “Beatles” and responsible for beheading 27 hostages and torturing captives with electric shocks, waterboarding, and mock executions. He is the fourth and final member of the terror cell to be named, following the unmasking of the group’s knife-wielding executioner “Jihadi John” as Mohammed Emwazi, and the two other guards as fellow west Londoners Alexanda Kotey and Aine Davis. [Continue reading…]

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