Last of 'The Beatles' British jihadists arrested in Syria

Rob Crilly
Alexanda Kotey is one of two to have been detained

Syrian Kurdish fighters have captured the last two surviving members of the Islamic State's notorious British "Beatles" terror cell, according to American officials.

Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were picked up as local forces fought running battles with Isil close to the border with Iraq, officials told The Telegraph.

The gang's leader, Mohammed Emwazi - better known as "Jihadi John” - died in a 2015 airstrike. He appeared in a string of propaganda videos and was filmed beheading British and American hostages.

A fourth member, Aine Davis, is serving a seven-year jail term in Turkey. It apparently brings to an end the grisly regime of fear led by the four young men from West London, who gained their nickname because of their British accents and who were linked to a string of murders in Iraq and Syria.

Bethany Haines, whose father David Haines was beheaded by Emwazi in 2014, last night welcomed the capture of Kotey and Elsheikh.

She told ITV News: "It’s brilliant that these evil people have been caught. The families will now have people to hold account for their loved ones' deaths.

"No punishment is enough for these barbarians."

El Shafee Elsheikh is also being held

Last year The Telegraph reported that the two missing men were on an American “kill list” reserved for senior Islamic State terrorists.

Unnamed American officials, quoted in the the New York Times last night, said the pair were picked up by the Syrian Democratic Forces as they fought the last remaining pockets of Isil fighters near the river Euphrates.

It added that the men were identified by fingerprints and other biometric means.

It brings to an end an exhaustive search for two of the world’s most wanted men, who had been on the run as Isil lost control of territory and retreated in disarray from what had once been its caliphate.

Elsheikh arrived in Britain as a child when his communist supporting parents fled Sudan. He was five when his family claimed asylum.

 Aine Davis, is serving a seven-year jail term in Turkey Credit: Enterprise News

His identity was revealed two years ago when British intelligence officials said they believed the former fairground mechanic from White City in west London was part of the so-called Beatles cell.

All four were based in Raqqa and quickly became known for their brutality.

Emwazi appeared with his face covered and voice disguised in a string of videos in which captives including British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning were beheaded.

Intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic joined the hunt for the four.

In January last year American authorities confirmed that Kotey was the fourth member and imposed sanctions on him.

The US State Department said at the time he was a guard for the “Beatles” and was believed to be “engaged in the group’s executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods”. It added he also acted as a recruiter for Isil.

Rubble in old town in Aleppo Credit: OMAR SANADIKI/Reuters

He grew up as a Queens Park Rangers fan and lived just two miles away Emwazi.

The half Ghanaian, half Greek Cypriot came from a family of dress cutters in Shepherd’s Bush and is believed to have converted to Islam, grown a beard, and begun dressing in traditional robes in his early twenties, after falling in love with a Muslim woman.

Born in 1983, Kotey was also connected to the “London Boys” – a network of extremists who fomented radical Islam while playing five-a-side football in west London and who were linked to the 7/7 London bombings and the subsequent failed 21/7 plot.

Syrian army fighters are operating against Isil in Deir Ezzor as are the Syrian Democratic Forces Credit: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images

He left two young children in Britain to travel to Syria.

The fourth member, Davis, was convicted of being a member of a terrorist organisation and jailed for seven-and-a-half years at a court in Silivri, Turkey, in May 2017.

At the time of his arrest, Turkish officials said he was detained with a number of people planning a terror attack.

The US authorities refused to confirm the reports of their arrest last night. The British government declined to comment on the reports last night.