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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Remaining members of ISIL’s ‘Beatles’ captured: report

Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were detained by Syrian Kurdish forces

Mohammed Emwazi, known as "Jihadi John” was one of four British members of ISIL who were known as the 'Beatles'. SITE Intelligence Group via AP
Mohammed Emwazi, known as "Jihadi John” was one of four British members of ISIL who were known as the 'Beatles'. SITE Intelligence Group via AP

Two of the notorious British ISIL fighters who alongside their compatriot Mohammed Emwazi – who was known as Jihadi John – were known as the ‘Beatles’ have reportedly been detained by Syrian Kurdish militia who have been engaged in the mopping up operation along the Euphrates River south to the border with Iraq.

According to the New York Times, the pair, who have been identified as Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, were picked up in mid-January, which was when American officials were informed about their capture.

A source at the foreign office in London unofficially confirmed to The National that the men had been detained although the department has yet to issue a statement

In Washington, a state department spokesperson did not deny the arrests. The US official told The National that the fate of any detainees with SDF will be decided in US interagency discussions with the anti-ISIS coalition partners which include the United Kingdom.

“Where appropriate, our interagency partners are working closely with our coalition partner nations on the disposition of detainees in SDF detention,” he said, while insisting that “these diplomatic discussions are private.”

The men – including a fourth Briton called Aine Davis who is currently being held in a Turkish jail on terrorism charges – were known to fellow ISIL fighters and their captives as the ‘Beatles’ because of their English accents. They were involved in the torture and killing of Western hostages such as American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, plus the British charity worker Alan Henning.

They were infamous for their cruelty – Emwazi appeared in ISIL videos in which it appeared that he personally beheaded hostages. He was killed by an airstrike in Syria in 2015.

All four men were originally from London and travelled to the Middle East in the early 2010s. The pair who appear to have been captured have lengthy crime sheets behind them.

The state department says that Kotey “likely engaged in the group’s executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electronic shock and waterboarding. Kotey has also acted as an ISIL recruiter and is responsible for recruiting several UK nationals to join the terrorist organisation.”

Elsheikh, according to the state department, “was said to have earned a reputation for waterboarding, mock executions and crucifixions while serving as an ISIS jailer.”

The pair were captured by Syrian Democratic Forces who, suspecting their identities, allowed American Special Operations forces access to them. Their identities were confirmed using fingerprints and biometric measures.