Thursday, August 04, 2016

John Lennon to Jihadi John: ‘Imagine’ the ‘Beatles’ on a horrific beheading spree

In the summer of 1971 when John Lennon, the British singer and songwriter who co-founded the Beatles, created “Imagine”, it was just a call to let go of the institutions that keep us separate, a message for peace. A pure Utopian vision.

“Imagine” turned out to be Lennon’s best-selling single of his solo career, followed by myriad interpretation of the song. Apart from being branded a commie, many believed “Imagine” lyrics reveal a total disbelief in faith and God. A remark Lennon once made that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus supposedly added fuel to this interesting thought.

Some had a problem with the "imagine there are no possessions" line, calling Lennon hypocritical as he was a millionaire rock star living in a mansion, apart from branding him a communist.

Although Lennon had said that the lyrics “Imagine that there was no more religion, no more country, no more politics is virtually the communist manifesto,” he also added that "even though I am not particularly a communist and I do not belong to any movement."

In the book Lennon in America by Geoffrey Giuliano, Lennon was quoted as saying that “Imagine” was an "anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic [song], but because it's sugar-coated, it's accepted."

The British rock star was not alone in his anti-war activism of the late 60s and early 70s. There were fellow musicians like Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Jackson Browne and many others. Lennon was an outsider in the US but happened to be famous and influential as the others. The US government wanted him gone as he was a symbol of the peace movement and could hurt its Vietnam war efforts by rallying the public. The Woodstock Festival had already done enough damage in 1969.

After years of deportation hearings, Lennon finally received his “green card” and was granted permanent residency status in the US in 1976. However, the co-founder of the “Fab Four” was assassinated outside his apartment in New York in 1980 before he got his US citizenship.
Ironically, performing “Imagine” moments before the New Year's Times Square Ball drops in New York City has become a tradition since 2005.

"Imagine" is simply another in the many songs John Lennon wrote in his lifetime with a strong sugar-coated message to ‘Give Peace a Chance’. The lyrics being: “Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky, Imagine all the people, Living for today… Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too…”

John Lennon would have never imagined that after more than four decades of encouraging the world to dream of a world at peace without the barriers of religion and nationality, a “fanatic four” from the terror group ISIS or Islamic State (whose goal is the foundation of a Sunni Islamic state) would disgrace the iconic “Beatles” tag.

Infamous for their taste for the macabre and said to be unimaginably ruthless than other Islamic State terrorists, these four members were dubbed “The Beatles” by their hostages because of their British accents. The members were nicknamed John, Paul, George, and Ringo, after the iconic Liverpool group by their hostages.

The Beatles were assigned responsibility to guard foreign hostages by Islamic State commanders. According to BuzzFeed, the four ISIS jailers beheaded seven American, British and Japanese hostages, as well as 18 members of the Syrian army. They also had a reputation for waterboarding, mock executions, crucifixions and were known for memorializing their horrific acts in a string of videotaped beheadings. Because of their excessive brutality, at one point they were removed from their guard duties by ISIS.

The jihadist known as "John", usually referred to as "Jihadi John", has beheaded or participated in maximum number of the beheadings. Identified as Mohammed Emwazi, he was killed in a drone strike year year.

Aine Davis nicknamed "Paul", a former London drug dealer, now in custody in Turkey, is also thought to have been a member of the infamous group. He was tried in Turkey in 2016 over allegations that he was plotting a terror attack there.

Another member of the Beatles cell Alexanda Kotey, a 'quiet and humble' Queens Park Rangers fan from west London, was exposed in February. The 32-year-old nicknamed "Ringo", was frequently seen by the hostages. His whereabouts are unknown.

El Shafee Elsheikh, 27, is believed by security forces to be the fourth member and final member of the all-British gang of ISIS fanatics led by Jihadi John. It's not clear whether the former fairground mechanic radicalised in west London is the guard known as "Ringo" or "George," whom the hostages considered the group's leader and the most vicious of the four.

However, former Beatle Ringo Starr expressed his disgust at the use of his former band's name as a nickname for the ISIS terror cell, saying: "It’s bullshit. What they are doing out there is against everything the Beatles stood for," adding that the band had stood for peace and opposed violence.

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