A member of the ISIS cell dubbed 'The Beatles' told an interviewer that John Lennon probably wouldn't like that characterization very much, in a bizarre interview with Arabic Al'Aan TV reporter Jenan Moussa.
El Shafee Elsheikh, who grew up in the United Kingdom, was part of the group referred to as 'The Beatles' in British tabloids by surviving captives because of their English accents. Elsheikh was captured in eastern Syria in January by the Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
The group held more than 20 Western hostages – and beheaded several American, British and Japanese journalists and aid workers and a group of Syrian soldiers, boasting in brutal videos released online.
Elsheikh said he did not approve of the videos and should not be held accountable for what other members of his group did.
"Just because I was part of ISIS doesn't mean I know whether people had legal, fair trials or not, I am just as in the dark as you about that," he said about those who were executed on camera. "I personally don't like to watch them it is not something I enjoy... I didn't cut anybody's head off."
"I didn't burn anybody, nor did I give anybody a trial and nor did I chop anybody's head off so that's an accusation that needs to be proved," he said before abruptly ending the interview.
2/ I just tweeted 1st part of my exclusive TV interview with El Shafee Elsheikh, ISIS member from UK. He's suspected member of notorious ISIS group "The Beatles".— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) April 8, 2018
Find below final part of interview for @akhbar. Nope, he didn't like my set of questions.pic.twitter.com/h6dKMTDnCL
In the second part, he says life in Raqqa was "like life anywhere else in the world, you do normal stuff... Go to the gym, eat in restaurants, play in the park with your kids."
He said he left Britain and went to Syria because life in the West is degenerate and corrupt, adding: "Every environment has corruption, but nothing beats the West."
"I wasn't always a Muslim in the UK," he said. "I wasn't always a practicing Muslim, so when I started to practice Islam, you automatically realize there is an obligation upon you in light of other Muslims in the world. They don't have the privilege of growing up in the West, never needing as much. You feel an obligation to do something for people who are oppressed. And in 2009 - 2011 there was no place that needed more help than Syria."
"Syrians want to go to Europe because they don't know the realities of Europe. They don't understand that people who come from Europe to the countryside of Aleppo or Idlib, they are jealous of the life they live. They're self-sufficient, they keep close to their families, there is not as much evil and corruption in their societies. But they look at buildings and opportunities and money and they want to go over there, and they end up breaking ties with their families, learning corruption, moving in the opposite direction."
"People [in the middle east] want to go [to Europe] because they don't know the realities of living in that corrupt environment... I didn't contact anybody, I just knew some people who were already here, arranged with them, and I came."