Two British Islamic State recruits, members of the so-called Beatles gang of jihadis who were captured in Syria, have accused the UK government of denying them a fair trial by revoking their citizenship, media reports said today
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, both from west London, were captured in eastern Syria by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and are now being held in northern Syria.
In an interview from captivity quoted across UK media today, the duo said the UK government’s decision to withdraw their citizenship was “illegal” and opened them up to “torture”.
“Being taken to any foreign land and treated in any way and having nobody to vouch for you. When you have these two guys who don’t even have any citizenship… if we just disappear one day, where is my mum going to go and say where is my son,” said Elsheikh.
He spoke of his membership of ISIS but did not admit to belonging to a four-member Beatles cell or to having been involved in the kidnappings or killings of western hostages associated with the British jihadi group.
Elsheikh branded the allegations “propaganda” and denounced the media for spreading stories of an alleged Beatles cell.
“No fair trial, when I am ‘the Beatle’ in the media. No fair trial,” he said.
US officials believe “the Beatles” ISIS cell beheaded more than 27 Western hostages and tortured many more.
The other two cell members also from west London were Mohammed Emwazi, nicknamed “Jihadi John”, and Aine Davis.
Emwazi, the ringleader, was killed in a drone strike in 2015 and Davis was convicted of being a senior ISIS member and jailed in Turkey last year.
Kotey described ISIS killings of western hostages as something that was “regrettable”.
Both Kotey and Elsheikh are designated terrorists by the US State Department, which says they have used “exceptionally cruel” torture methods.
UK Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood said he believed the men should be tried in an international criminal court.
Elsheikh, whose family came to Britain from Sudan when he was a child, worked as a mechanic in London.
Kotey, who is of Ghanaian and Greek-Cypriot descent, converted to Islam in his 20s. They travelled to Syria a few years ago and have been interrogated by US officials.