LONDON: El Shafee Elsheikh, the 33-year-old British man accused of being a member of Daesh, says his training as a British army cadet was “very useful” when he went to fight in Syria.
Elsheikh, from east London, was captured in Syria in 2018 and is currently on trial in Virginia in the United States, where he faces charges related to the kidnapping and murder of several people, including four Americans and two British aid workers.
One of four British Daesh members nicknamed “The Beatles” after the English pop group, Elsheikh had been trained in the use of firearms, orienteering and several other skills “in various military bases” in the UK.
John Chiappone, an FBI agent who interviewed Elsheikh after he was arrested by the Syrian Defense Forces, told the court: “The defendant said he was a British Army cadet – a group of young people from under 18 to receive military training.
Elsheikh was stripped of his British citizenship by the British government in March 2018 after his capture. He initially claimed to be a Yemeni citizen, speaking only Arabic until his identity was revealed via a fingerprint database.
“He said he received firearms training in the SA80 rifle, as well as map and compass, which was very useful to him when he started fighting for Isis (Daesh) “, said Chiappone. “He said that while in the UK he committed robberies, assaults, was involved in knife fights and had previous arrests.”
Chiappone told the court that while questioning Elsheikh in custody in the northern Syrian town of Kobani, the Daesh fighter confirmed that fellow ‘Beatle’ Mohammed Emwazi was the masked figure who carried out the video beheadings of US citizens James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig and UK citizens David Haines and Alan Henning.
Elsheikh had elsewhere said of Emwazi that “he was one of the most faithful friends I have had – trustworthy, honest, upright”.
Chiappone said: “(Elsheikh) said he knew Emwazi from a mosque on Harrow Road in west London. They would go swimming together and pray together during Friday prayers and weekday prayers.
The FBI agent added that Elsheikh and Emwazi had shared the same senior Daesh overseer, Osama Atar, also known as Abu Ahmed Al-Iraqi, who is believed to be the man who ordered the killing of the American and British victims, as well as being the mastermind. behind the attacks in Paris and Brussels.
“Elsheikh said he and Emwazi met Atar at the same time in 2013. He said he knew Mohammed Emwazi was the individual in the execution videos of American and British people,” Chiappone added.