Daughter of executed aid worker relieved at capture of ‘The Beatles’ IS gang
Bethany Haines, whose father David was killed in 2014, hopes bereaved families can now get closure.
The daughter of a British aid worker executed after being held captive by the extremist group dubbed “The Beatles” has spoken of her relief that two of its members have been captured.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, believed to have been part of Islamic State’s brutal executions gang, were detained by US-allied Kurdish militia fighters in January, the New York Times (NYT) said.
Along with Mohammed Emwazi – the killer nicknamed Jihadi John – and Aine Davis, they are thought to have been part of a group named after the ’60s band because of their English accents.
The four Londoners were linked to a string of hostage murders in Iraq and Syria during the bloody Islamist uprising.
Bethany Haines, whose father David was killed in 2014 after being held captive for 18 months, said she hoped the pair’s detention could bring some closure for relatives of those murdered.
She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I got a call late last night to say that they had been captured and the first thought was relief, finally to know that the people that were involved in my dad’s murder have been caught and will sort of serve some justice.”
Asked what she would like to see happen now, she replied: “In my opinion, they shouldn’t be breathing but that’s not really a realistic kind of expectation. I think that they should be locked up with the key thrown away and never to be released.”
She added: “It was always kind of the unanswered question as to where they were and could they do this sort of thing again? And yes, this sort of thing might happen again but the specific people that carried it out before have now all been caught and I think it will bring a lot of closure to all the families.”
She said they should be “made an example of” to show “there is zero-tolerance for terrorism and these sort of crimes”.
French journalist Nicolas Henin, who was held hostage by Islamic State for 10 months and believes “The Beatles” were among his captors, said he wants the men returned to Britain to face justice.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I would like to see them brought back to Britain, just like I would like to see all other European jihadis brought back to their home countries, to be judged fairly in their home country.
“Because the worst thing we can do with a terrorist is to deprive him from his right because then you make the terrorist a victim.”
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told the Times: “These are people who have done absolutely vile and despicable crimes and brought absolutely so much misery.
“It is good that they have been hunted down and caught.”
Unnamed US officials told the NYT that Kotey, 34, and Elsheikh, 29, were captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces which were battling the last remaining pockets of IS fighters near the Euphrates river on the Iraq/Syria border.
It added that the men were identified by fingerprints and other biometric means.
Former child refugee Elsheikh was a mechanic from White City in west London, and Kotey was from Paddington.
In January 2017, US authorities named Kotey as a member of the cell and said they had imposed sanctions on him.
As a guard for the cell, Kotey likely engaged in the group's executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electronic shock and waterboarding US State Department
In a statement at the time, the State Department said Kotey was “one of four members of an execution cell for … the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil)”.
It went on: “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.
“Kotey has also acted as an Isil recruiter and is responsible for recruiting several UK nationals to join the terrorist organisation.”
Elsheikh, it said, “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 Mr 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 by a court in Silivri, Turkey, in May 2017.
The Foreign Office said it did not comment on individual cases or ongoing investigations.