Many of these videos were preceded by lengthy statements from ISIS members; one particular group of four members became known as “the Beatles,” a reference to their British accents.
After a lengthy search, the remaining two members of the group – Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh – have finally been confirmed as detained by Kurdish fighters in Syria.
All four members of the Beatles lived in West London. Led by Mohammed Emwazi – also known as “Jihadi John,” the Beatles and ISIS itself became well-known to many after the now-infamous video of his decapitation of American journalist James Foley in August 2014. Emwazi was killed in an airstrike in Syria in 2015.
The fourth member of the group, Aine Davis, is currently in a Turkish prison after his arrest and conviction on terrorism charges, which left Kotey and Elsheikh as the surviving members of the foursome.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia, have been rooting out and fighting the remaining ISIS insurgents in small towns and villages along the Syria-Iraq border. Three weeks ago, the SDF informed American officials that they had captured two men they believed to be Kotey and Elsheikh; American Special Operations forces were able to confirm their identities using fingerprints and biometric measurements.
A State Department memo was released last January designating Kotey as a terrorist. According to the memo, Kotey “likely engaged in the group’s executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electr[ic] shock and waterboarding.” A similar memo, released in March 2017, noted that “Elsheikh was said to have earned a reputation for waterboarding, mock executions and crucifixions while serving as an ISIS jailer.”
It is unclear what will happen to Kotey and Elsheikh. Given President Trump’s desire to make use of the detention center at the Guantánamo Bay military base in Cuba, the two remaining Beatles may be headed there.
However, because Guantánamo is technically designated for members of Al-Qaeda and not ISIS, the detention of Kotey and Elsheikh at that base may pose legal challenges that national security officials would prefer to avoid.
[via New York Times]