El Shafee Elsheikh

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El Shafee Elsheikh
Known for alleged to have played a role in Daesh atrocities

El Shafee Elsheikh is a citizen of the United Kingdom who was captured by the Syrian Defense Force, who said he was fleeing from the collapse of Daesh, the short-lived "Islamic State".[1][2][3] In April 2022 he was convicted by a civilian court, in the United States, for playing a role in the killing of several civilians.[4]

Early life

Elsheikh spent his youth in London, England.[2] The Telegraph reports he was a follower of a local football team, the Queen's Park Rangers, and dreamed of joining the team, when he grew up.[5]

Allegations of ties to terrorism

On March 30, 2017, Elsheikh and four other men were named as suspected terrorists, by the US State Department, under Executive Order 13224.[6] This Executive Order signed by President George W. Bush, shortly after al Qaeda's attacks on September 11, 2001, allowed the State Department to bar US citizens, US financial institutions, and other US corporations, from having any financial transactions with designated individuals.

Syrian Defense Forces captured Elsheikh, and his friend Alexanda Kotey, on January 24, 2018.[1][2][3] The pair were reported to have been trying to blend in with genuine civilian refugees, fleeing the collapse of the last Daesh enclaves.

Future detention and possible venue for prosecution

The Independent reported that the United Kingdom government was considering agreeing that Kotey and Elsheikh could be transferred to the Guantanamo detention camps.[1]

Detention in Guantanamo could be indefinite detention, without charge, if transferred to US custody, for a civilian trial, they would likely be detained at the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, if they were convicted.[1] The Independent described how bleak conditions would be at the Florence Supermax, confinement to a featureless cell, for 23 hours a day, practically no human contact, exercise periods in a small featureless courtyard, near their cell.

Another option under consideration is trial at the International Court in the Hague.[1] According to The Independent, the UK government would first strip Kotey and Elsheikh of UK citizenship, prior to agreeing to transfer to the Hague.

The Guardian quoted Tobias Ellwood, the UK Minister of Defence, who argued that transfer to Guantanamo was inappropriate.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Rob Merrick. Britain 'may not challenge' Donald Trump if he decides to send jihadi 'Beatles' to Guantanamo, Justice Secretary says: Britain has yet to make any representations to Washington because it must first ‘consider our options’', David Gauke says, The Independent, 2018-02-11. Retrieved on 2018-02-11. “But he refused to say the Government would intervene if the US President opted to send the pair to the notorious detention centre in Cuba for suspected terrorists.”
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Rohit Kachroo. Alexanda Kotey image: ITV News obtains exclusive first photo of IS 'Beatle' in detention, ITV, 2018-02-09. Retrieved on 2018-02-11. “The bearded Kotey is seen in a tatty grey t-shirt after being captured in Syria in January, trying to smuggle himself into Turkey.”
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lolita C. Baldur. US wants foreign fighters in Syria to face justice at home, National Post, 2018-02-11. Retrieved on 2018-02-11. “U.S. officials have interrogated the men, who were part of the IS cell that captured, tortured and beheaded more than two dozen hostages, including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and American aid worker Peter Kassig.”
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named washingtonpost2022-04-15
  5. Martin Evans, Josie Ensor, Steve Bird, Patrick Sawer,. Revealed: How two London schoolboys became the world’s most wanted murderers, The Telegraph (UK), 2018-02-09. Retrieved on 2018-02-11. “Growing up in west London in the 1990s, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh had many things in common, not least their passion for Queens Park Rangers - the local football team.”
  6. State Department Terrorist Designations of El Shafee Elsheikh, Anjem Choudary, Sami Bouras, Shane Dominic Crawford, and Mark John Taylor. U.S. Department of State (30 March 2017). Retrieved on 26 April 2017.
  7. Ian Cobain, Vikram Dodd. Put 'Beatles' Isis fighters on trial, victims' families say: Families express relief and call for Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh to be put on trial, The Guardian, 2018-02-09. Retrieved on 2018-02-11. “Relatives of the victims of an Islamic State torture and murder cell known as “the Beatles” have expressed relief that the two remaining members have been captured and said they wanted to see them stand trial.”