Homeland Security

British ISIS Fighter Opens Up: Islamic State Traffic Tickets Bad, Yazidi Slavery Fine

One of the British jihadists dubbed “The Beatles” defended the slavery of Yazidi women in an interview with a Lebanese journalist, while claiming that ISIS issuing traffic tickets broke Islamic law.

El Shafee Elsheikh has been detained in Kobane by the Syrian Democratic Forces since January, and said he’d been treated “fine; not bad” by his captors. The SDF caught Elsheikh and another Brit, Alexanda Kotey, as they tried to flee alongside civilians.

His group of British ISIS fighters is accused of overseeing and torturing foreign hostages, many of whom were murdered, with Mohammed “Jihadi John” Emwazi being part of the cell. British media reported that Elsheikh was a mechanic and soccer fan before journeying to Syria in 2012.

“It’s just like any other jail: you eat, sleep, you wait to be interrogated,” he said in the interview with Jenan Moussa of Dubai-based satellite channel Alaan TV.

When Moussa asked who was interrogating Elsheikh, he replied, “American government. The SDF officials. That’s it. No British involvement.” He said he had not been offered any deals.

“I think it’s finished, maybe; haven’t been interrogated in some days now,” Elsheikh said. “Before, it was the Department of Defense. They were OK. Some of them were some respectable people. Then they brought some less respectable people. Then they brought the FBI, who were the least respectable out of the bunch.”

When asked about “The Beatles” nickname for the British terror group, the ISIS member fired back, “I don’t listen to music so I’d rather not speak about a rock band.” He said his response to the nickname was “I didn’t think John Lennon would like it very much.”

Moussa noted that former hostages accused Elsheikh of personally beating them, waterboarding and carrying out mock executions.

“I say that there’s an ongoing legal process and when they decide to get along with it, then we can talk about any accusations made against me or anyone else,” he responded. “So let’s just make a clear distinction between a part of an organization or a state or group and agreeing with everything they do.”

Pressed on which things ISIS did that he didn’t agree with, Elsheikh said he didn’t agree with Islamic State “traffic tickets.”

Moussa then asked if he agreed with ISIS taking Yazidi women into slavery.

“Do I denounce what, slavery? I don’t denounce slavery, no,” Elsheikh said. “You have to understand that just because America decided to abolish something — I don’t know what year it was — anyway, it does not mean that every person has to run behind America and say ‘this is now an abominable act’ and nobody can do it. The reality is slavery is something that has been around as long as humans have been around. Islamic texts have spoken on slavery and the rights of a slave and there’s a whole jurisprudence about slavery and the rights of slave owners.”

He called life in ISIS-controlled Raqqa “normal” and “like life anywhere else” in terms of going to the gym, going out to eat and playing in the park.

Elsheikh, who never looked Moussa in the eye during the interview, claimed he was “just as in the dark as you” on whether people executed by ISIS got fair trials and said he personally didn’t like beheading videos because “it’s not something I enjoy seeing.”

Noting that he wasn’t always a practicing Muslim, he said that when he became devout he “automatically realized” his “obligation” to do things like go to Syria to fight.

When pressed about ISIS crimes, Elsheikh accused the reporter of bias before declaring the interview over. “I didn’t burn anybody, I didn’t give anybody a trial, nor did I chop anybody’s head off,” he said.