Aine Davis (left) at an ISIS training camp. Picture: Facebook
October 17, 2023
A 39-year-old man from Hammersmith dubbed Jihadi Paul has pleaded guilty to a number of charges relating to terrorism.
Aine Davis, who was alleged to be part of the ISIS ‘Beatles’ kidnap gang, so-called because of their English accents, has admitted possessing a firearm for terrorist purposes and funding terrorism.
He persuaded his wife to send 20,000 euros to him when he was in Syria which was smuggled into the country by a friend who hid the cash in her underwear and was pictured at a jihadist training camp hold a weapon.
Davis grew up in the Hammersmith area as well as spending part of his childhood in Gambia. His mother is a dinner lady who worked at Latymer Upper School and his father was an employee of John Lewis who had 13 children by four different women.
Earlier in his life he was a low-level drug dealer in the area with the nickname ‘Biggz’ but was sent to a young offenders’ institution after being caught in the back of a taxi with a firearm in 2004.
Whilst incarcerated he converted to Islam but on his release he found work as a tube driver.
He has denied been a member of the ISIS Beatles who are accused of being involved the kidnapping 27 people of whom seven were executed included including Brits David Haines and Alan Henning and James Foley, an American journalist. It is alleged that this group tortured and beheaded hostages.
None of the charges face by Davis in the UK related to these allegations.
He is the only alleged member of the group of four to face trial in the UK. Mohammed Emwazi, the man nicknamed "Jihadi John", and the one who a number of hostages said carried out the executions, was killed by a drone strike in Syria in November 2015 on the same day that Davis was arrested in Turkey.
The two others believed to be part of the group, El Shafee Elsheikh (Ringo) and Alexanda Kotey (George), were captured in Iraq in January 2018 and extradited to the US where they have been jailed for life. As part of the terms of their extradition, they were not given the death penalty.
Alexanda Kotey (left) and El Shafee Elsheikh (right)
Kotey is suspected of helping to organise a terror plot in 2014 which aimed to murder soldiers and police officers. The alleged plan was to attack the former Shepherd’s Bush police station in Uxbridge Road and the army barracks in South Africa Road and then make a getaway on mopeds. Kotey was reportedly in regular communication with medical student Tarik Hassane, who was jailed for life in 2016 for conspiring to commit a terrorist murder and ordered to serve a minimum of 21 years for his part as ringleader of the gang.
Elsheikh was captured by the Western-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. He was responsible for guarding prisoners and subjected them to waterboarding and mock executions. Born in the Sudan he grew up in White City and supports QPR as does Kotey. At one point he preached from a stall outside Shepherd's Bush Tube Station. He studied engineering at Acton College then worked as a mechanic and on the funfair when it visited Shepherd's Bush Green. His youngest brother Mahmoud also joined ISIS as and was killed in Tikrit, Iraq, in April 2015.
Previously the then Home Secretary, Priti Patel, had made an urgent request to prosecutors in the US to extradite Davis but this was refused on the grounds that he could be tried in this country for similar offences.
Davis had gone to Syria with Kotey, who is from Shepherd’s Bush, in February 2012 and knew Emwazi from a mosque in West London. He was named as a co-conspirator but evidence from the hostages generally only mentioned three members of the gang with English accents and US prosecutors didn’t seek his extradition from Turkey.
He returned to the UK before leaving again in July 2013, joining an aid convey that was crossing from Turkey into Syria.
When Davis faced trial in Turkey he denied being a member of ISIS or one of the ISIS Beatles and that he been in the region to assist with aid work and had spent most his time in Turkey. When confronted with photos showing him with a Kalashnikov amongst a group of armed militants, he said he had posed with them for a joke.
The Turkish court convicted him of being a member of ISIS and he was jailed for seven-and-a-half years before being deported back to the UK in August 2022 since which time he has been detained.
His wife and mother of his two children, hairdresser Amal el-Wahabi, was jailed for two years and four months in November 2014 for trying to smuggle the 20,000 euros him. She says that he had told her he would take another wife in Syria if she didn’t do what he ask. She paid a friend, university student Nawal Msaad, to bring the money but she was cleared after a trial at the Old Bailey when her defence that she didn’t know the money was intended to be given to ISIS.
Davis's defence team had argued that he should not be put on trial in the UK because he had already effectively served a jail term in Turkey for the same offences but this argument was rejected by the Court of Appeal. He will be sentenced on 13 November.
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