Two captured British members of an Islamic State execution group dubbed ‘The Beatles’ should be tried and punished, relatives of their victims have said.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were reportedly detained by US-allied Kurdish militia fighters in January, it has emerged.
According to The New York Times, unnamed US Officials said Kotey, 34, and Elsheikh , 29, were captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on the Iraq/Syria border and had been identified by fingerprints and other biometric technology.
Alongside Mohammed Emwazi, nicknamed Jihadi John, and Aine Davis, the pair have been linked to a string of executions of hostages in Iraq and Syria. The group was dubbed The Beatles because of their English accents.
Following news of their capture, Bethany Haines – whose father David, a British aid worker, was beheaded by the cell – said she hoped they die a “slow, painful death”.
Ms Haines told the BBC: “They should be locked up and throw away the key”.
She said if there was a trial, she would “look them in the eye and let them know I am who I am and they have certainly destroyed a big part of my life. Hopefully there will be some justice.”
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Diane Foley – mother of American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded by the group – said she wanted the pair to face life in jail, telling the BBC: “Their crimes are beyond imagination.”
Mrs Foley said she hoped the men would face trial in the US, but she just wanted to see that: “they are brought to fair trial and detained and justice is served”.
In January 2017, US authorities named Kotey, from Paddington, as a member of the cell.
In a statement, the State Department said Kotey was “one of four members of an execution cell for… the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil)”.
The statement said: “The notorious cell, dubbed ‘The Beatles’ and once headed by now-deceased Mohamed Emwazi (also known as Jihadi John), is responsible for holding captive and beheading approximately two dozen hostages, including several Westerners. Among them: American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and American aid worker Peter Kassig.”
“As a guard for the cell, Kotey likely engaged in the group’s executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electronic shock and waterboarding.”
It said Kotey had also acted as a recruiter for IS and was responsible for recruiting several UK nationals.
According to the statement, former child refugee Elsheikh, a mechanic from White City in west London: “was said to have earned a reputation for waterboarding, mock executions, and crucifixions while serving as an Isis jailer”.
Emwazi, who was killed in a US air strike in 2015, appeared in a number of videos in which captives including British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning were beheaded.
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.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said they do not comment on individual cases or ongoing investigations.
He said: “The UK has advised for some time against all travel to Syria, and against travel to large parts of Iraq.
“Anyone who has travelled to Syria or parts of Iraq against UK government advice, for whatever reason, is putting themselves in considerable danger – particularly if they are fighting for our enemies.”
In December, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said Britons who joined Islamic State should never be allowed back into the country, telling the Daily Mail: “I do not believe that any terrorist, whether they come from this country or any other, should ever be allowed back into this country.”