US sanctions on Briton named as member of 'Beatles' IS cell
United States authorities have imposed sanctions on Briton Alexanda Kotey after officially naming him as a member of the Islamic State terror cell nicknamed The Beatles.
The US State Department said Kotey, 33, from Paddington, London, is one of four members of a group that beheaded around two dozen hostages, including Britons David Haines and Alan Henning.
Authorities believe Kotey acted as an IS recruiter who carried out torture for the group, including electronic shock and waterboarding.
The team of British executioners was led by Mohammed Emwazi - Jihadi John - and was also responsible for the killing of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and US aid worker Peter Kassig.
Emwazi, who beheaded several Westerners in IS propaganda videos, was killed in a drone strike in Syria in 2015, while Aine Davis, also from London, was arrested in Turkey the same year.
The fourth member was named last year as former child refugee El Shafee Elsheikh, a mechanic from White City in west London.
Identifying Kotey as a "specially designated global terrorist", the US State Department said: "As a guard for the cell, Kotey likely engaged in the group's executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electronic shock and waterboarding.
"Kotey has also acted as an Isil recruiter and is responsible for recruiting several UK nationals to join the terrorist organisation."
The department has frozen any property or interests he may have in the US and banned its citizens from having any dealings with him.
US authorities believe his last known location was in Raqqah, Syria, a State Department spokeswoman said, though it is not clear whether he is still in the city.
Kotey, a Muslim convert and a reported father of two from west London, was initially named in February last year in a joint investigation between the Washington Post and BuzzFeed News.
He was 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 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.
Friends told the Washington Post and BuzzFeed News investigation that Kotey advocated suicide bombing and was often involved in fraught arguments.
An old friend of his told ITV he was "a nice, polite and well-spoken person" but that "he was brooding and could be capable of plotting things behind the scenes".
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.
The four IS jihadis were apparently given the collective nickname The Beatles by hostages due to their distinctive British accents.