I am distantly connected to El Shafee Elsheikh, and I know his execution would do nothing to solve the root causes of radicalisation
The first time I saw El Shafee Elsheikh’s name in the British media, it took me a while to make the link between this Islamic State terrorist – said to be a member of the so-called Isis Beatles – and the stories I’d heard about the misfortunes of a Sudanese woman called Maha whose boys were losing their way in London.
The Elsheikhs were a distant part of my extended family circle in Sudan before they sought asylum in the UK. I never met any of them, but they were spoken of often, long before the brothers were radicalised, as a family that had fallen through the cracks in exile. The irony in the Elsheikh story is that the parents were communists who fled to the UK from the persecution of an Islamist regime that came to power in Sudan in 1989. A whole middle-class generation left the country in the early 90s, either out of fear for their safety after they refused to support the regime, or because they were too liberal and progressive. Many struggled to thrive once they fled.
His story has no arc, is merely one of self-righteous violence with a banal origin, and it should be treated that way