Two British males believed to be members of a infamous Islamic State group (IS) cell have been seized by Syrian Kurdish fighters, US officers say.
Alexanda Kotey, 34, and El Shafee Elsheikh, 29, had been the final two members of the cell to stay at giant.
The 4, all from London, had been nicknamed “the Beatles” due to their British accents.
US officers mentioned the “execution cell” had beheaded greater than 27 Western hostages and tortured many extra.
Who had been the IS ‘Beatles’?
The US state division says the four-man cell was answerable for beheading a number of Westerners. They’re:
- Mohammed Emwazi – dubbed Jihadi John, beheaded quite a lot of Western hostages on video. The west Londoner was killed in a drone strike in 2015 in Raqqa, the previous de facto IS capital in Syria
- Aine Davis, additionally from west London, was convicted of being a senior IS member and jailed in Turkey final 12 months
- Alexanda Kotey, one other west Londoner, took part in the torture of hostages, the US State Department says, and in addition acted as a recruiter for IS
- El Shafee Elsheikh “earned a reputation for waterboarding, mock executions, and crucifixions” whereas serving because the cell’s guard, the US state division says
The alleged ringleader of the group was Emwazi who was killed in an air strike in Syria in 2015. He was the masked militant who featured in grotesque IS movies, taunting Western powers earlier than beheading hostages.
Aine Davis was jailed in Turkey last year on terrorism charges, after being arrested close to Istanbul in 2015.
Victims who appeared in these movies included British help staff David Haines and Alan Henning, US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and American help employee Peter Kassig.
How had been they captured?
The newest arrests had been confirmed by US officers.
Officers quoted by US media mentioned the 2 males had been captured by members of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who’re concentrating on remnants of IS.
The UK International Workplace, in the meantime, mentioned it didn’t touch upon particular person instances or investigations.
Their capture was first reported by the New York Times, who famous that American officers had needed to maintain the information secret.
The intention was “to permit analysts extra time to pursue the intelligence leads developed from their detention and put together raids in opposition to unsuspecting Islamic State targets”, the newspaper mentioned.
The Syrian fighters who apprehended them informed US officers in mid-January that the 2 could have been captured, and the boys’s identities had been later confirmed utilizing fingerprints and different biometric information.
The households of the boys weren’t conscious of the seize till the story was reported by information organisations, they informed the BBC this night.
What’s the state of IS in Syria?
The Islamic State’s group self-declared caliphate – its space of management – shrunk quickly final 12 months.
In October, the group misplaced its “capital” of Raqqa to the SDF. In the beginning of November, it lost Deir-al Zour in Syria on the identical day because it misplaced al-Qaim in Iraq.
The SDF is an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters against IS. The US-backed group has performed a key function in driving IS from its strongholds in Syria.
The US has mentioned it goals to keep up an open-ended navy presence within the nation to make sure the jihadist group’s defeat.
Nevertheless, the presence of huge numbers of Kurdish armed forces in northern Syria has alarmed neighbouring Turkey.
Evaluation: What occurred to all of the international fighters?
Gordon Corera, safety correspondent
The pair are mentioned to have offered useful intelligence following their seize. Which may be useful in answering the broader query of what occurred to the international fighters because the so-called caliphate disintegrated.
How lots of the hundreds of international fighters had been killed and what number of went to different nations or would search to come back residence? These males can have been precedence targets – however not the one ones.
Their seize additionally raises the problem of what occurs subsequent. They could possibly be placed on trial within the US, since they had been allegedly concerned within the killing of US hostages – however there could also be some within the Trump administration who wish to ship them to Guantanamo Bay.
And it’s not clear if that is – formally – a difficulty for the UK Authorities, as there are stories the pair could have had their UK citizenship stripped from them utilizing powers accessible to the Residence Workplace.
Revealed at Thu, 08 Feb 2018 23:15:16 +0000