Two suspected ISIS ‘Beatles’ executioners could face trial in UK as Brit investigators ‘have enough evidence’, Supreme Court hears

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BRITISH investigators have enough evidence to put two of the so-called ISIS “Beatles” on trial in the UK, the Supreme Court heard yesterday.

El Shafee Elsheikh, 29, and Alexanda Kotey, 35, could face charges in Britain including murder, hostage taking and membership of a terrorist organisation, the court was told.

AP:Associated Press

Alleged ISIS executioners Alexanda Amon Kotey, left, and El Shafee Elsheikh. British investigators have enough evidence to charge the men in the UK, the Supreme Court heard[/caption]

AP:Associated Press

The men are currently being held in northern Syria. They fear being prosecuted in the US – which has given no assurances that they won’t be executed[/caption]

The men are accused of belonging to a brutal four-man cell of Islamic State executioners in Syria.

They were nicknamed The Beatles because of their British accents – and are suspected of killing a number of high-profile Western captives.

The pair were captured in January last year and are currently being held in northern Syria.

Their case has sparked an international row over whether they should be returned to the UK for trial or face justice in another jurisdiction.

DEATH PENALTY FEARS

The US wants Britain to share its evidence against them so they can be put on trial there – but has refused to guarantee they won’t face execution.

Elsheikh’s mother, Maha Elgizouli, is trying to block the Government from handing over their case to US prosecutors.

Her solicitor Edward Fitzgerald QC said yesterday: “Mrs Elgizouli is solely concerned to protect her son from the death penalty.”

Beginning the two-day hearing in London, Mr Fitzgerald added: “She recognises the enormity of the crimes alleged against her son, Shafee Elsheikh, and against his alleged accomplice Alexanda Kotey.

“She recognises that they should face justice.

“But she submits that they should face justice in this country, the country of their past citizenship, the country of two of their alleged victims, and the country which has obtained the main body of evidence against them.”

COULD FACE CHARGES IN UK

It also emerged that Mrs Elgizouli is also suing the Crown Prosecution Service for not prosecuting the pair in the UK.

In response, the CPS has revealed it now believes there is enough evidence to charge Kotey with five offences of murder and eight of hostage taking.

Elsheikh could also be charged with membership of a terrorist organisation due to the evidence gathered, Mr Fitzgerald added.

He added: “It defies all common sense and legal logic that they can be tried in America on our evidence – but they can’t be tried here on our evidence.”

Elsheikh and Kotey have volunteered to return to the UK if they are to be tried here.

EVIDENCE-SHARING

Then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid agreed for 600 witness statements gathered by the Metropolitan Police to be shared with US authorities.

But Mr Fitzgeral argued that his move went against the “settled policy of requiring death penalty assurances in all such cases”.

He added: “Behind that policy lies a long and honourable tradition on the part of this country of rejecting the death penalty as morally wrong in all circumstances.”

Previous Home Secretaries Theresa May and Amber Rudd had asked for a full death penalty assurance in relation to the pair, he added.

Mrs Elgizouli is appealing against a High Court ruling made in January by two leading judges, who concluded that Mr Javid’s decision was not unlawful.

Her appeal is being opposed by the Home Secretary and the court will also hear submissions from other organisations including the Death Penalty Project and Reprieve.

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed Mr Javid’s original decision back when he was Foreign Secretary.

Kotey and Elsheikh were raised in the UK but have been stripped of their British citizenship.

They were captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces in January 2018.


They are said to have been members of the cell that also included Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, who was killed in a US air strike in 2015, and Aine Davis, who has been jailed in Turkey.

Emwazi appeared in a number of videos in which hostages – including British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff – were killed.

The hearing is due to continue on today and the court is expected to give its ruling at a later date.

Alamy

The men are alleged members of a brutal ISIS death squad known as the ‘Beatles’ because of their British accents[/caption]

PA:Press Association

Then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid agreed to share evidence with the US – who want to prosecute the men there but have not given assurances that they won’t be executed[/caption]

'Death squad': Who are the alleged members of the ISIS 'Beatles' executioners

Mohammed Emwazi (Jihadi John):

Emwazi fronted a number of IS propaganda videos where Western hostages were shown executed.

Originally from Kuwait, he was educated in North London, and graduated from the University of Westminster in 2009 in computer programming.

In the UK he came under surveillance from intelligence services after travelling to Tanzania and Kuwait.

He was linked with a number of high-profile suspected jihadists that MI5 were tracking.

His family reported him missing in 2013.

In 2014 he appeared in number of videos where Western hostages including US journalist James Foley and UK aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning were beheaded.

The last known video appearance from him was January 2015.

He was killed in a US drone strike on November 12, 2015.

Alexanda Kotey:

He attended the same al-Manaar mosque in West London as Emwazi.

Kotey was identified as one of the gang by the US state department, which said he was likely to have been a recruiter of UK nationals to the group.

He was captured by members of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in January 2018.

Aine Davis:

He was arrested near Istanbul in 2015, and convicted in Turkey in 2017 of being a senior member of a terrorist organisation.

In London he had lived in Hammersmith and had a number of drug convictions.

In 2006 he was jailed for possessing a firearm.

After converting to Islam, he changed his name to Hamza and met Emwazi.

The two were part of a group that radicalised Muslims living in London. He left the UK to join ISIS in 2013.

After being arrested he denied being part of the terror group, or “the Beatles” cell.

El Shafee Elsheikh:

The son of Sudanese refugees, Elsheikh went to Syria in 2012 and joined al-Qaeda there before aligning himself with ISIS.

He and Kotey were detained after Kurdish fighters suspected they were foreign terrorists.

They are each being held in northern Syria.

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