The daughter of a British aid worker murdered 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.”
Ms Haines said she would like them to be “locked up with the key thrown away” and is hopeful their capture will bring closure to bereaved families.
French journalist Nicolas Henin, who was held hostage by IS for 10 months and believes “The Beatles” were among his captors, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme they should be returned to Britain to be “judged fairly in their home country”.
He added: “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.
Mark Campbell, co-chairman of the Kurdish Solidarity Campaign, said he understood from sources in the YPG (Kurdistan People’s Protection Units) that the arrests had taken place in the Deir ez-Zur region in the north east of Syria, towards the Iraq border.
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.
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 said the “notorious cell, dubbed ‘The Beatles’” had held captive and beheaded approximately two dozen hostages.
It went on: “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 Kotey family have said they had “seen news about Alexe today”, but said they would not be commenting further and asked that they are not contacted by the media.
Elsheikh, the US State Department 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.