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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 March 2019

Path to Supreme Court clear for family of ISIS suspect

Britain wants a member of "the Beatles" ISIS fighters to be prosecuted in the US

El Shafee Elsheikh, right, seen with another man. Both allegedly are among four British jihadis who made up a brutal ISIL cell dubbed "The Beatles". AP
El Shafee Elsheikh, right, seen with another man. Both allegedly are among four British jihadis who made up a brutal ISIL cell dubbed "The Beatles". AP

Judges on Thursday cleared the way for the family of a reputed member of an ISIS assassination squad to appeal against his extradition to the US to stand trial over the murders of western hostages.

Britain wants El Shafee ElSheikh – allegedly a member of a squad of foreign fighters dubbed "the Beatles" because of their English accents – to be prosecuted for involvement in “acts of barbaric terrorism”. He is currently detained by Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

Mr El Sheikh’s British citizenship was revoked in 2014. He is implicated in the murders of three US and two British citizens, according to court papers.

His family were told on Thursday that they can appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court after failing to block moves to send him to the US, where he could face the death penalty if found guilty.

The family claimed that putting him on trial in the US violated EU law since execution is banned by all of the 28 member states.

The High Court said that Britain’s Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, must also provide no further intelligence to the US until the Supreme Court’s decision.

Mr El Sheikh is among 900 foreign fighters held in northern Syria. Kurdish forces have warned that they could free some of them if they are not returned to their home countries to face trial.

Britain is unwilling to bring back UK nationals suspected of joining ISIS. Lawyers said their treatment in custody could make it impossible to receive a fair trial in the UK.

In May 2018, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid wrote to then US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to confirm that Britain would help with a US prosecution of members of the ISIS hit squad and it would not seek assurances the death penalty would be avoided.

The letter sparked a backlash from MPs who accused him of breaking the UK’s long-standing opposition to the death penalty, which it abolished in 1965.

Updated: February 14, 2019 04:27 PM

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