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'Beatle' terror suspect's family 'deeply distressed' at reports of IS link

Published 07/02/2016

Jihadi John was unveiled as a Briton named Mohammed Emwazi
Jihadi John was unveiled as a Briton named Mohammed Emwazi

The family of a British man alleged to be a member of the Islamic State (IS) terror cell dubbed "The Beatles" say they "are deeply distressed" at the claims.

Alexanda Kotey has been named in press reports as a key conspirator with Mohammed Emwazi - the killer more commonly known as Jihadi John and seen on IS videos murdering Western hostages.

In a statement to the Press Association, Kotey's family said: "The Kotey family are deeply distressed about recent media reports involving Alexe. They have not seen Alexe for a number of years.

"They would ask the media to respect their privacy and to desist from attempting to contact them, and not to seek to take or publish any photographs of them.

"They would like to make it clear they will not be commenting any further on this matter."

Kotey, a Muslim convert and an apparent father of two from west London, was named following a joint investigation between the Washington Post and BuzzFeed News.

Another Londoner, Aine Davis, has also been named as one of "The Beatles" in a report by ITV News.

There was no official confirmation of their names by the intelligence services, although the men have long been associated with Emwazi.

Emwazi was killed in a drone strike in Raqqa in November and was deemed responsible for the deaths of several hostages, including Britons Alan Henning and David Haines.

Kotey, 32, has been 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 IS in Syria.

Raised a Greek Orthodox Christian - his mother was said to have been Greek-Cypriot and his father Ghanaian - he reportedly converted to Islam as a teen.

He is said to have attended the Al-Manaar mosque in Notting Hill in west London along with Emwazi and Davis.

Friends told the Washington Post and BuzzFeed News investigation Kotey advocated suicide bombing and was often involved in fraught arguments.

An old friend of Kotey said he was "a nice, polite and well-spoken person, he was brooding and could be capable of plotting things behind the scenes".

He told ITV: "(Alexe) had a lot of hardships and people younger than him, who haven't, look up to him and he can speak to people on the level.

"He could have been in trouble with the police, he was like a politician, and he works the room. People were dispossessed and he was a magnet for those people, he understands that energy.

"He had the skills of influencing people he could see as influential or vulnerable so they could bring their friends in."

Four British IS jihadis were apparently given the collective nickname "The Beatles" by hostages due to their distinctive British accents.

It is not known whether Kotey was the guard dubbed "Ringo", or "George" - allegedly the most violent of the set.

Kotey is said to have fled Britain in 2009, leaving his two children behind, and travelled to the Gaza Strip on an aid convoy of 110 vehicles organised by George Galloway, the then-Respect MP and current London mayor candidate.

Ron McKay, a spokesman for Mr Galloway, said the latter had not heard Kotey's name until press reports on Sunday.

Davis's name has been mentioned in British court cases in connection with terror allegations as long ago as 2014.

The drug dealer left England in 2013 to become an IS guard, ITV said.

He was reportedly detained in Turkey in November last year, having been linked with Emwazi.

Davis's wife, Amal El-Wahabi, was jailed for two years at the Old Bailey in 2014 for funding terrorism after convincing a friend to take £15,380 in euros to Turkey to help her husband and the IS fight.

Saleha Islam, Al-Manaar director, said the mosque has "always condemned the actions of these extremists and will continue to do so".

She said: "The suggestion that the mosque has radicalised young men shows how ignorant people are of Islam and how mosques work.

"Mosques are not like churches that cater for parishioners, instead it is a place for worship where people come to pray, what sort of ideas they have in their minds is something that we do not know of and we cannot control.

"As someone who has been involved in social work and community work for over 30 years, I am fully committed to ensuring that our children are not groomed and radicalised."

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