British Isis fighters known as ‘the Beatles’ captured in Syria
Two British Isis militants implicated in brutal acts of torture and execution, have been captured by US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria.
The two men, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, formed part of a group of four fighters nicknamed “the Beatles” due to their British accents and are allegedly responsible for murdering approximately two dozen hostages in Syria.
Kotey, a 34-year-old convert to Islam who grew up in west London, and 29-year-old Elsheikh, whose family fled to the UK from Sudan in the 1990s, were the only remaining members of the group still at large.
The group’s leader, Mohammed Emwazi, nicknamed Jihadi John, was killed in a 2015 airstrike. Emwazi was believed to be the militant responsible for the gruesome beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, which were captured on film and distributed in Isis propaganda videos.
The group’s fourth member, Aine Davis, was convicted on terror charges last year in Turkey.
The capture was first reported by the New York Times and independently confirmed by the Guardian.
Citing unnamed US officials, the Times reported the two men were captured by the American-backed Kurdish militia the Syrian Democratic Forces, operating south of the Euphrates river, close to the Syria-Iraq border.
Two US officials also confirmed the capture to Reuters. The two men were captured in early January, and US forces were given access to them, one of the officials told the news agency.
Who were the Islamic State group ‘Beatles’ cell?
They all grew up in west London, and all wound up in the same cell of the Islamic State group guarding, torturing and killing hostages in Syria and Iraq.
Now, the last two members of the group dubbed the “Beatles” by their hostages, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, have been arrested by Syrian Kurdish fighters.
The group of four British men were radicalised in the UK before travelling to Syria, where they became infamous for their high-profile executions of Western hostages.
US officials believe the “execution cell” beheaded more than 27 Western hostages and tortured many more.
Each was known to their hostages by their respective Beatles moniker – Paul, Ringo, John and George.
Spanish journalist and former hostage Javier Espinosa, told the BBC in 2017 that the group were “thugs with no knowledge of what is religion at all”.
What”s my thoughts?
I’m delighted that these animals have been caught & will face justice somewhere/someday (hopefully in the UK or USA) for their inhuman cruelty and abuse they showed to their poor hostages including James Foley , Steven Sotloff, and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning
Whom after months/years of abuse & torture at the hands of theses monsters , where slaughtered like animals in the backyard of humanity , in the name of the sickest and most barbaric Islamic ideology of modern times.
Their crimes shocked and sickened all decent folk the world over , including peace loving Muslims and they passed a red line of humanity not seen since biblical times.
Thankfully Emwazi , the ringleader & most brutal of the group was incinerated on 12 November:
“as the car he was in was targeted in a strike by an unmanned drone in the city of Raqqa, destroying the car and killing him instantly”.
Hallelujah – Hope he’s burning in the eternal flames of hell!
The Beatles Terrorist Cell
History & Background
“The Beatles“, dubbed as such by their hostages because of their English accents, was an active Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group. Its members were nicknamed John, Paul, George, and Ringo by the hostages, after the four members of the British rock group the Beatles. In November 2015, one of The Beatles was killed and one was arrested, but the other two remain active with ISIL as of 2017.
They are responsible for beheadings in Iraq and Syria, most notably as shown in the beheading videos of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, in 2014. The group have also guarded more than 20 Western hostages of ISIL in Western Raqqa, Syria. They are harsher than other ISIL guards, using electric shock Taser guns, mock executions (including a crucifixion), and waterboarding.
The Beatles were a group of 4, or 3, British Muslims fighting for the extremist, jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Its members were nicknamed John, Paul, George, and Ringo by the hostages, after the four members of the British rock group The Beatles.
They have taken hostages; have guarded more than 20 Western hostages of ISIL in cramped cells in Western Raqqa, Syria; have beheaded hostages; and have memorialized their acts in beheading videos that they made public.
Guarding, torturing, and seeking ransoms for hostages
The Beatles, who have been assigned responsibility to guard foreign hostages by ISIL commanders, are harsher than other ISIL guards. One source said:
“Whenever the Beatles showed up, there was some kind of physical beating or torture.”
They are the most feared of the jihadists because of their taste for the macabre and their beatings, use of electric shock Taser guns, mock executions (including a crucifixion of Foley), and waterboarding, according to a freed French hostage.
Haines, for example, was severely tortured and subjected to electric shock taser punishments by the Beatles, from the time of his March 2014 abduction. The group have also forced hostages to fight each other in boxing matches as the group watched, and then tortured the losers.
Because of their excessive brutality, at one point they were removed from their guard duties by ISIL.
The Beatles were interested in obtaining ransoms for their hostages. A former hostage reported that the Beatles bragged that they had been paid millions of dollars in ransoms by certain European countries; enough to retire to Kuwait or Qatar. The group contacted families of some UK hostages, and are believed to be maintaining links to their associates and friends in the UK.
James Foley‘s mother, Diane Foley, said in an interview:
“their requests were impossible for us, 100 million Euros, or all Muslim prisoners to be freed. The requests from the terrorists were totally directed towards the government, really. And yet we as an American family had to figure out how to answer them.”
The Beatles cell held at least 23 foreign hostages, nearly all of whom were ransomed or killed.
Jihadi John beheaded or participated in the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as British humanitarian aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, American aid worker Peter Kassig, Japanese private military contractor Haruna Yukawa, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and 22 members of the Syrian armed forces in a period from August 2014 to January 2015.
A former ISIS member said that using a British man to carry out the beheadings was likely a deliberate effort by ISIS to:
“project the image that a European, or a Western person, killed an American so that they can … appeal to others outside Syria and make them feel that they belong to the same cause.”
In August 2014, it was claimed that there were more than 20 hostages remaining. Many hostage families have chosen not to reveal their relatives’ names in order to avoid drawing attention to them and compromising their safety.
The jihadist known as “John”, usually referred to as “Jihadi John”, was identified by The Washington Post, in February 2015, as Mohammed Emwazi, and appears in a video as Foley’s killer. His identity was known to US and UK intelligence agencies in September 2014, but was not released for reasons of operational security.
On 12 November 2015, a United States drone aircraft reportedly conducted an airstrike in Raqqa that targeted Emwazi as he left a building and entered a vehicle. US officials stated he had been killed, but his death had not been confirmed. The US was still analysing the data.
The official called it a “flawless” and “clean hit” with no collateral damage and that Emwazi “evaporated”.A senior US military official was quoted as saying, “we are 99% sure we got him”. In January 2016, ISIL confirmed his death.
George, the leader of the Beatles, often spent time repeating sections of the Quran and promoting ISIL’s extremist views publicly. George uses the nom-de-guerre of “Abu Muhareb“, which means “Fighter” in Arabic. It was the view of the hostages that George was not very intelligent. The Daily Telegraph has speculated that George is the West London jihadist Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary who may have travelled to Syria with fellow jihadist Mohammed Emwazi.
In 2016, Alexanda Kotey, a 32 year old convert from west London, was identified as a member of the Beatles by The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News. They were uncertain whether he was George or Ringo, although social media evidence pointed towards Ringo.
A few months later, another joint investigation by the Post and BuzzFeed identified the last member of the group. El Shafee Elsheikh, a British citizen whose family fled Sudan in the 1990s, was a 27 year old Londoner who had travelled to Syria in 2012. They were still uncertain as to whether Elsheikh or Kotey was George.
In early January 2017, the US State Department froze the assets of Alexanda Kotey but did not confirm he was ‘George’.
Ringo was frequently seen by the hostages. In 2016, Alexanda Kotey, a 32 year old convert from west London, was identified as a member of the Beatles by the Washington Postand BuzzFeed News. They were uncertain whether he was George, or whether he was Ringo, although social media evidence pointed towards Ringo.
A few months later, another joint investigation by the Post and BuzzFeed identified the last member of the group. El Shafee Elsheikh, a British citizen whose family fled Sudan in the 1990s, was a 27 year old Londoner who had travelled to Syria in 2012. They were still uncertain as to whether Elsheikh or Kotey was Ringo.
In early January 2017, the US State Department froze the assets of Alexanda Kotey but did not confirm he was ‘Ringo’.
Aine Lesley Davis
Paul appeared in the cells of the hostages less than the other Beatles, and appeared to be a guard only. Aine Lesley Davis, reported to have been one of the British Islamists assigned to guard Western hostages, was arrested in Turkey on 13 November 2015.
He was tried in Turkey in 2016 over allegations that he was plotting a terror attack there.On 9 May 2017, he was convicted of terrorism offences by a Turkish court and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.
The use of “Beatles” as a nickname for the group elicited a response from English musician and former Beatle Ringo Starr, who expressed his disgust at the use of his former band’s name in this context, saying:
“It’s bullshit. What they are doing out there is against everything The Beatles stood for,” and adding that the Beatles had stood for peace and opposed violence.
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “British people are sickened thaa British citizen could be involved in murdering people – including a fellow British citizen who had gone to Syria to help people – in this way. It is the very opposite of what our peaceful, tolerant country stands for.”
The British intelligence and security agencies MI5, MI6, Scotland Yard, and GCHQ are working on tracking down the group, in coordination with the CIA, FBI, and a Joint Terrorism Task Force of the United States.
A significant force of the British Special Air Service was deployed to Northern Iraq in late August 2014, and according to former MI6 chief Richard Barrett will be sent to Syria, tasked with trying to track down the Beatles using a range of high-tech equipment and with potentially freeing other hostages.
As of September, British intelligence and security agencies including MI5 and Scotland Yard, aided by GCHQ communication monitoring, were working with the FBI and CIA, and field teams from MI6 and the CIA in Northern Syria, to identify and locate the group. British and US electronic eavesdropping agencies have targeted communications by the group.
In October, British Prime Minister Cameron told the heads of MI5, MI6, and GCHQ that the manhunt was their top priority