Who are the four Britons allegedly in the ‘Beatles’ terror cell?

Alexanda Kotey, left, and El Shafee Elsheikh
Alexanda Kotey, left, and El Shafee Elsheikh - (Copyright AP)
22:01pm, Wed 07 Oct 2020
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A terror cell nicknamed the Beatles shocked the world with graphic footage of hostages being beheaded in Syria.

Four Britons were alleged to make up the group, nicknamed after the famous band because of their accents.

Here are the alleged members:

– Mohammed Emwazi – also known as Jihadi John

Mohammed Emwazi - (Copyright PA Media)

Emwazi featured in a video in August 2014 in which he condemned the West and appeared to behead US journalist James Foley, sparking global outrage.

He emerged again in a number of other videos released by the so-called Islamic State group, including those in which American reporter Steven Sotloff and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning were murdered.

He was said to be the ringleader of the group and was reported killed in a November 2015 air strike, with US forces saying at the time they were “reasonably certain” he was dead.

IS later released what appeared to be an obituary to the fighter, who it called Abu Muharib al-Muhajir, featuring a smiling picture of the militant, who appeared unmasked looking towards the ground.

Announcing criminal charges against two alleged co-members in October 2020, John Demers, US assistant attorney general for national security, said Emwazi had “faced a different kind of American resolve – the mighty reach of our military, which successfully targeted him in an air strike several years ago”.

Kuwait-born Emwazi attended Quintin Kynaston Community Academy in north London and was described by his former head teacher as a “hard-working aspirational young man”.

He went on to gain a degree in information systems with business management from the University of Westminster.

– Aine Davis

Aine Davis (left) - (Copyright PA Archive)

London-born Davis left the UK in 2013 to fight in Syria, and was arrested in Turkey two years later.

He was jailed for seven-and-a-half years in 2017, having been convicted at a court in Silivri, Turkey, of being a member of a terrorist organisation.

Three years earlier, his wife Amal El-Wahabi became the first person convicted in the UK of funding terrorism in Syria.

Jailing her after a trial at the Old Bailey, Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC said it was clear that Davis had gone to Syria to fight under the black flag of so-called Islamic State and that he was preoccupied with martyrdom.

Davis’s WhatsApp profile picture showing him brandishing an automatic weapon was a “particularly shocking image”, the judge said.

El-Wahabi, of north-west London, tricked an old school friend into agreeing to take 20,000 euros (£15,830) in cash to Turkey for her drug dealer husband.

During that trial, jurors were told how Davis, then 30, who was born in London with roots in Gambia, met El-Wahabi at a London mosque and had become increasingly interested in Islam.

He left the UK to pursue a jihadist cause in July 2013, leaving El-Wahabi and her two young children to live off benefits in London.

– Alexanda Kotey

Kotey was born in London in 1983 and 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, and had 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 was said to have become increasingly radicalised and was influential in encouraging young men to join IS in Syria. The US Justice Department said he had participated in a demonstration outside the US embassy in London in 2011 in support of the 9/11 attacks.

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

He left London for Syria at the end of August 2012 with Emwazi “to wage violent jihad on behalf of radical Islamic groups”, the US Justice Department said.

He was captured in January 2018 by the Syrian Democratic Forces as he attempted to flee Syria for Turkey.

– El Shafee Elsheikh

El Shafee Elsheikh, right, with Alexanda Kotey - (Copyright AP)

Previously a mechanic, from White City, west London, Elsheikh was born in Sudan in 1988 but moved to London with his family as a child.

Elsheikh’s mother Maha Elgizouli said he had been influenced by hate preacher Hani al-Sibai, claiming he was “brainwashed” into becoming an extremist after going to sermons at local mosques for little more than two weeks.

A local councillor and community leader who knew the family for 20 years, said it was “astonishing” how quickly Elsheikh – who he described as a “soft-spoken, very kind kid” – began following extremist ideology.

He and Kotey were said to have participated in a demonstration outside the US embassy in London in 2011 in support of the 9/11 attacks.

Elsheikh left London for Syria around April 2012, and bought a fully automatic assault rifle when he arrived, the first of many weapons he would have during his time as an IS fighter, the US Justice Department said as it announced charges against him.

He was captured alongside Kotey in 2018 and both have been stripped of their British citizenship.

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