The west London drug dealer called ‘Biggz’ who became ISIS fighter: How Muslim convert Aine Davis, who was friends with Jihadi John, went from petty criminal and feckless father to jihadist in Syria – as he’s jailed for eight years for terror offences
A British Muslim convert once suspected of being the fourth member of the ISIS ‘Beatles’ is a former drug dealer who abandoned his two young children to join the terror group in Syria.
Aine Davis, also known as Aine Rodrigues, is the son of a John Lewis worker father who had 13 children by four different mothers. His mother, Fay Rodriquez, is a dinner lady originally from Cuba.
Now 39, he was today jailed for eight years today for a string of terror offences including possession of a firearm and funding terrorism. Spies once believed that Davis was one of the Beatles, a group of British jihadists who tortured and killed hostages.
Davis was born in Britain but sent back to Gambia by his father – who was nicknamed Benno – when he was five to live with his grandmother. He converted to Islam in Gambia, when he was 15, later adopting the name Hamza.
On a visit to Britain at the age of 17, Davis decided he did not want to return to Gambia. He worked only sporadically, taking a job on the London Underground in 2006 and 2007 and later for an internet company.
Aine Davis is a former London drug dealer turned terrorist with ISIS in Syria
He has been jailed for eight years today for a string of terror offences including possession of a firearm and funding terrorism
He had two boys with one partner and two more with Amal el-Wahabi, who he met at Acklam Road mosque in West London in 2006. The youngest child was a month old when he left for Syria.
In June 2004 at Southwark Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm after he was caught travelling in a taxi with a handgun alongside another youth. He was sentenced to two years at a Young Offenders Institution.
READ MORE – ‘Fourth ISIS Beatle’ Aine Davis apologises to Syria ‘because his presence did more harm than good’
On six separate occasions between 2002 and 2010, he was convicted of possessing cannabis and on each occasion given a fine.
In April 2010 police were called to reports of a large number of men fighting with weapons. Davis, street name ‘Biggz’, ran from officers, throwing a large quantity of herbal cannabis from his trousers as he ran, but police caught up with him and found he had £680 in cash.
He was arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs with intent to supply but was only charged with possession, following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, and was given a fine after pleading guilty.
Davis also had a history of interest in extremist material. An iPod found at his wife’s house included speeches by the al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and by the extremist cleric Abu Hamza from Finsbury Park mosque.
An iPad included videos celebrating martyrs in Somalia and copies of a number of US military manuals. On a Kindle e-reader were various books by Abdullah Azzam, mentor to Osama bin Laden.
In November 2007, Davis and el-Wahabi travelled to Dubai where Davis tried to get a job teaching English and then went on the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Aine Davis, also known as Aine Rodrigues, is the son of a John Lewis worker father who had 13 children by four different mothers. His mother, Fay Rodriquez, is a dinner lady (left). Pictured right: His former family home
On his return to Britain, he studied Arabic at Brixton mosque, a popular mosque with converts, and then decided he wanted to go to Yemen for three months to study the language further.
El-Wahabi fell pregnant and, when they returned to Britain, Davis left her, although he stayed in contact with his son.
Davis made another trip to Saudi Arabia and then returned to Yemen to complete his language course, travelling on to Egypt, Qatar and Yemen again.
Davis left Britain on February 17. 2012 on the Eurostar, through the Channel Tunnel, with Alexanda Kotey, who went on to become one of the key members of the Beatles kidnap gang. and two other friends.
Davis was carrying €10,000 in cash, later claiming that the money was from ‘repairing Underground coaches.’
The friends, Nassim Terreri from Ladbroke Grove and Walid Blidi from Southwark were killed in March 2012, within two weeks of their arrival.
Initially claims were made that they were freelance journalists but the Free Syrian Army said later they had been with them and died in fighting close to Darkoush, a few miles from the Turkish border.
Davis referred to Terreri as ‘my brother’ in messages to his wife and was apparently there when he was killed, during an attempted ambush on a Syrian regime convoy.
Davis later returned to Britain. He had been banned from returning to Turkey but still managed to catch a flight to Amsterdam and then to Turkey on July 18 2013.
El-Wahabi said Davis left to ‘find work’ in Turkey and while he was there joined a British aid convoy to Syria with friends from London to ‘hand out food.’
He entered Syria and was picked up in Kafar Takharim, Northern Syria, by a friend using the name, Abu Saeed.
In Syria, Davis dropped the name Hamza and adopted a new alias, Abu Ayoub, basing himself initially in Atmeh, according to reports, which was controlled by the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.
An aid worker who met him in Atmeh described him as ‘very diplomatic and street smart’, and ‘clearly an ISIS supporter.’
‘He was more up to discussion then the other guys. He wasn’t as die hard as the others,’ the worker told journalist Tam Hussein.
In common with other fighters seeking to join ISIS, Davis then crossed back into Turkey, staying in Konya, before making his way to Raqqah, through the Tal Abyad crossing and joining ISIS.
Davis sent a picture to el-Wahabi on November 26 2013 of himself with a male companion, both with their fingers pointing in the air in a salute adopted by extremists.
Davis knew ISIS ‘Beatles’ El Shafee el-Sheikh (left) and Alexanda Kotey (right) posing for mugshots in an undisclosed location in America
The third Beatle, Mohammed Emwazi – dubbed Jihadi John – was killed in a drone strike
Davis was wearing an Afghan-style hat and a Puma hooded top and the other man was wearing military-style webbing and clutching a Kalashnikov assault weapon. He labelled the picture: ‘It’s for [eldest son]. Don’t show no one else. I mean it.’
The following day he sent a ‘team photograph’ of himself with a large group of armed fighters with their fingers raised.
This time he was wearing military-style webbing and a camouflage top and clutching a rifle. The 13 other men were wearing similar clothing and some of them were masked.
However, mystery surrounds just how close he got to his old friend Alexanda Kotey in Raqqa.
Davis was deported from Turkey last August and detained on arrival at Luton airport after serving a seven-and-a-half year sentence for membership of ISIS.
He admitted possession of a firearm contrary to Section 57 of the Terrorism Act 2000, and two charges of funding terrorism, after the Court of Appeal threw out a bid for the charges to be dropped.
The charges dating back to 2013 and 2014 related to images with Davis’s then-wife while he was in Syria and a failed bid to send him 20,000 euro via an unwitting courier. Davis has always denied being connected with The Beatles cell – so-called because of their British accents – which tortured and beheaded western hostages in Syria.
Making no reference to the Beatles, Mark Summers KC issued an apology to the Syrian people on Davis’s behalf saying and the defendant and those like him ‘did more harm than good’.
Davis’ asked his former wife Amal El-Wahabi, 36, to send him cash while he was fighting for ISIS
Mr Summers said: ‘The reality he found when he arrived in Syria was profoundly different to anything he had ever imagined. What he thought he could achieve personally in a war zone transpired to be wholly and completely naive.
‘Very little involved helping people of Syria. It involved most of the time in-fighting and schisms.’
Having ‘misunderstood’ his religious obligations to travel to Syria, Davis left in January 2014 having witnessed ‘atrocities’ and achieved nothing significant, he said.
Mr Summers said: ‘He has a number of apologies to make through me today – the first is to the Syrian people. The presence of him, those like him and the groups he associated with there, caused more harm than good.’
Two IS Beatles members, British nationals El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, are serving life in US jails.
The third Beatle, Mohammed Emwazi, dubbed Jihadi John, who was believed to feature in shocking videos of IS beheadings of a number of captives, was killed in a drone strike in 2015.
Davis’s legal team had claimed that US authorities had accepted there was no fourth Beatle while the Court of Appeal noted any plan to extradite him there was ‘short-lived and discounted’.
London-born jihadi Aine Davis’ long road to the Old Bailey
Suspected ‘Isis Beatle’ Aine Davis became a trans-Atlantic hot potato as lawyers wrestled with the thorny legal issues around how and where he should face justice.
2006: London-born Davis, who has roots in Gambia, meets his wife Amal El-Wahabi at a London mosque and becomes increasingly interested in Islam.
2007: Davis spends time living in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. According to El-Wahabi, he had a history of drug dealing and went abroad to get away from bad influences.
July 2013: The Muslim convert leaves the UK to pursue a jihadist cause in Syria.
November 26 2013: Davis sends El-Wahabi a picture of himself in Syrian woods posing with a man holding a Kalashnikov rifle.
November 27 2013: Davis sends a group photograph with 13 other people holding guns aloft.
January 2014: El-Wahabi’s friend Nawal Msaad is stopped at Heathrow airport before boarding a flight to Istanbul and found to be carrying 20,000 euro (£15,830) in rolled-up notes.
Summer 2014: El-Wahabi goes on trial at the Old Bailey accused of attempting to send Davis the money to fund terrorism. She is found guilty and Msaad, who was ‘hoodwinked’ by her friend to act as a courier, is acquitted.
November 2014: Mother-of-two El-Wahabi is jailed for 28 months and seven days. Judge Nicholas Hilliard says it is clear that Davis went to Syria to fight under the black flag of Isis and El-Wahabi was ‘infatuated’ with him.
2015: Mohammed Emwazi, aka Jihadi John, the ringleader of the murderous Beatles IS cell, is killed in a US drone strike.
November 12 2015: Davis and others are arrested in Istanbul by the Turkish authorities on suspicion of being members of an armed terrorist group, namely the so-called Islamic State.
Davis is using a forged travel document.
May 9 2017: Davis is convicted in Turkey of membership of a proscribed organisation with firearms and sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison.
2018: Two IS Beatles cell members, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, are captured in Syria. They are later handed eight life sentences in the United States.
2019: Suspected fourth cell member Davis is visited in his Turkish prison by a British intelligence officers who asked him about The Beatles. Afterwards, Davis claims he was mistreated in prison.
May 2021: A draft extradition request for Davis is drawn up but allegedly rejected in favour of deportation by July.
June 2022: British officials learned that prosecutors in New York are seeking to extradite Davis to the US.
June 30 2022: A report is published in British media that Davis is to be deported and citing legal sources advising the British government – ahead of the official announcement in Turkey.
July 2022: Prosecutors in Virginia clarify that they are not looking to put him on trial as a member of The Beatles cell, saying there were only three members.
Then-home secretary Priti Patel allegedly appeals – unsuccessfully – to US authorities for Davis to be prosecuted there in an apparent plan to extradite him on following his deportation from Turkey.
Davis is transferred to an immigration detention centre where he is visited by a consular official who repeatedly attempts to persuade him to return to Britain voluntarily – without success.
August 2022: Davis is deported to Britain and detained by counter-terrorism police on his arrival at Luton airport.
March 2023: Davis is due to stand trial at the Old Bailey accused of arranging terrorist funding from abroad and having a gun with terrorist intent.
His lawyer Mark Summers KC argues he has effectively been convicted and served his time in Turkey for his activities in Syria. He accuses British authorities of having ‘ulterior’ motives and ‘conniving’ to get him back with a view to onward extradition to the US.
October 2023: Davis pleads guilty to having a firearm for terrorist purposes and two terrorism funding charges after unsuccessfully applying to the Court of Appeal.
November 2023: He is jailed for eight years.
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