Beatle militants held

Alexanda Kotey (left) and El Shafee Elsheikh

London: The last two remaining British militants from an Islamic State beheading gang, nicknamed the "Beatles" by their hostages because of their English accents, are reported to have been captured.

The duo, named as Alexanda Kotey, 34, and El Shafee Elsheikh, 29, "were detained by the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia, which is fighting the last pockets of Islamic State insurgents in Syrian towns and villages .... American officials were informed in mid-January that the militia might have captured the men".

According to the New York Times, the Kurds "suspected that the two men were foreign fighters and gave them access to American Special Operations forces.... The Americans confirmed their identities using fingerprints and other biometric measurements".

The leader of the notorious gang, Mohammed Emwazi (also known as "Jihadi John"), who appeared in videos in which British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and others were beheaded, was killed in a US air strike in 2015.

The fourth man, Aine Davis, was jailed on terrorism for seven-and-a-half years by a court in Silivri, Turkey, in May 2017.

The capture of the last two members of the "Beatles", who are thought responsible for murdering 27 hostages, has been independently confirmed by the Guardian and the Reuters news agency.

Bethany Haines, whose father David Haines was killed in 2014 after being held captive for 18 months, said they should be "made an example of" to show "there is zero-tolerance for terrorism and these sort of crimes. In my opinion, they shouldn't be breathing...."

Kotey was born in London of Greek Cypriot ethnicity, while Elsheikh came as small boy in the 1990s when his family arrived as refugees from Sudan.

Many refugees have abused the kindness shown by Britain.

British Defence secretary Gavin Williamson told the Times in London: "These are people who have done absolutely vile and despicable crimes ... It is good that they have been hunted down."

The New York Times reporter, Adam Goldman, who broke the story, was interviewed for BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight

on Thursday by presenter Razia Iqbal and told her that Kotey was "exceptionally cruel". He tortured people with "electronic shocks and waterboarding" and was responsible for recruiting a number of UK nationals. Elsheikh possessed expertise in crucifixions.

The men, who have been stripped of their British nationality, will mostly likely face trial in America, he added.


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