The daughter of a British aid worker killed by ISIS’s ‘Beatles’ gang has welcomed the news two of the group are in U.S. military custody.
David Haines, 44, was captured by extremists in 2013 while working for an international relief agency in Syria and was beheaded by Mohammed Emwazi, also known as Jihadi John, the following year.
Emwazi was later killed by a drone but two of gang Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were captured and, it was confirmed last night, have now been whisked away by the American security services.
Speaking today, Mr Haines’ daughter, Bethany, 22, said she is pleased the transfer means the pair are more likely to face justice.
Bethany Haines, the daughter of murdered aid worker David Haines, has welcomed news that two terrorists from the cell who killed her father, are in U.S. custody
The two ‘Beatles,’ Alexanda Kotey known as ‘Jihadi Ringo’ (left) and and El Shafee Elsheikh (right), are in U.S. custody. They were part of a group of four British ISIS soldiers who beheaded seven Western journalists and aid workers
Ms Haines told ITV News: ‘There was an instant relief because I think my biggest fear was that they wouldn’t serve justice, whether that was from them being freed or being killed.
‘But morally you have to wonder why are these two being given special treatment, because they are high profile?’
‘Justice is what we are waiting for, that’s the end of the story. It is hugely important and it is such a relief that the chances of them escaping are very much lessened now.’
Kotey and Elsheikh are being held by the U.S. military in an undisclosed location are it is understood they could be tried in the state of Virginia.
Virginia is one of the U.S. states which still has the death penalty, opening the possibility Kotey and Elsheikh could be executed.
The so-called ‘Beatles’ cell of killers beheaded seven American, British and Japanese journalists and aid workers, and a group of Syrian soldiers, in 2014 and 2015, boasting of the butchery in chilling propaganda videos released to the world.
David Haines was captured and murdered by ‘the ISIS Beatles’ in a filmed execution
The other two members of the ‘Beatles’ group infamous for their beheadings were Mohammed Emwazi (left), who was killed in a drone strike in 2015. The fourth member, Aine Davis (right) was convicted in Turkey and sentenced to seven years in prison
British aid worker Alan Henning was also among those executed, while other victims included US citizens James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig.
Announcing the operation, President Trump said: ‘We are taking some of the most dangerous Isis fighters out.
‘We’ve taken them out, and we’re putting them in different locations where it’s secure.’
US officials confirmed this included Elsheikh, a mechanic from White City in west London, and Kotey, from Paddington, also in west London.
In a subsequent post on Twitter, Mr Trump added: ‘In case the Kurds or Turkey lose control, the United States has already taken the 2 ISIS militants tied to beheadings in Syria, known as the Beetles (sic), out of that country and into a secure location controlled by the U.S.
‘They are the worst of the worst!’
Donald Trump said the two terrorists had been taken out of Syria into U.S. custody
The pair, who were raised in the UK but have since been stripped of their British citizenship, are among thousands of ISIS fighters, including others from Britain, who have been held in camps in the region.
They were captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in January 2018.
The Crown Prosecution Service has said there is ‘insufficient evidence’ to prosecute them in the UK.
But Sir John told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We have rather left those Isis detainees in the hands of the Kurds.
‘I think it’s a very challenging problem. What do you do with up to 10,000 fighters, has been mentioned, and some of them are from Britain? I think there does have to be some concerted effort here.
‘Frankly, it was only ever a temporary solution to leave them in a camp in the desert in Syria.
‘I think, ultimately, they ought really to be brought back to their home countries to face justice here.
‘What’s happening now is two former British citizens are likely to face American justice. They should probably face British justice here.’
Mr Haines’s daughter has travelled to Syria in a bid to get answers about her father’s death
Emwazi – the supposed ringleader dubbed Jihadi John – was killed in a US air strike in 2015, while 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 2017.
Kotey, a Muslim convert and a reported father-of-two, was previously described by neighbours in his former west London community as a quiet man who was dedicated to Queens Park Rangers football club.
But he reportedly became increasingly radicalised and was influential in encouraging young men to join ISIS in Syria.
Raised a Greek Orthodox Christian – his mother is believed to have been Greek-Cypriot and his father Ghanaian – he reportedly converted to Islam as a teenager.
He is said to have attended the Al-Manaar mosque in Notting Hill in west London along with Emwazi and Davis, before fleeing Britain 10 years ago.
The pair were moved out of Syria ahead of an invasion of Kurdish held areas by Turkey
Elsheikh is said to have come to the UK in 1993 after his family fled Sudan and claimed asylum.
His mother, Maha Elgizouli, later said her son was influenced by hate preacher Hani al-Sibai, and that the former fairground worker was ‘brainwashed’ into becoming an extremist after going to sermons at local mosques for little more than two weeks.
He fled for Syria in 2012.
His younger brother, Mahmoud Elsheikh, later followed him but was killed fighting for ISIS in Iraq in 2015.
Earlier this year, Ms Elgizouli brought a Supreme Court challenge against the decision of then-home secretary Sajid Javid to share evidence with American authorities without seeking assurances the men would not be executed if convicted in the US.
The court is expected to give its ruling at a later date.