UK arrests, charges ISIL’s alleged ‘Beatles’ cell member

Aine Davis was charged with terrorism offences after his arrest upon landing at Luton airport on a flight from Turkey.

London attacks
The Metropolitan Police lead anti-terror investigations in the UK [File: Andy Rain/EPA]

A British man accused of being part of the ISIL (ISIS) armed group’s kidnap-and-murder cell known as the “Beatles” has been charged with terrorism offences after returning to the United Kingdom, according to police.

“A 38-year-old man has been charged with various terrorism offences following an investigation by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command,” police said in a statement on Thursday.

The Metropolitan Police, which lead anti-terror investigations in the UK, officially named the man as Aine Davis and said he has been remanded in police custody.

They said they arrested Davis after he landed at Luton airport on a flight from Turkey.

The suspect, who does not have a fixed address, was set to appear at a court in central London on Thursday morning.

He was allegedly a member of the ISIL cell, which held dozens of foreign hostages in Syria between 2012 and 2015 and was known to their captives as the “Beatles” because of their British accents.

The four members of the “Beatles” are accused of abducting at least 27 journalists and relief workers from the United States, Britain, Europe, New Zealand, Russia and Japan.

They were all allegedly involved in the murders of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.

The quartet allegedly tortured and killed the four Americans, including by beheading, and ISIL released videos of the murders for propaganda purposes.

Accused ISIL members Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh sit next to each other during an interview
Alexanda Kotey (L) and El Shafee Elsheikh (R) speak during an interview with The Associated Press at a security centre in Kobane, Syria [File: Hussein Malla/AP Photo]

Alexanda Kotey, a 38-year-old former British national extradited from the UK to the US in 2020 to face charges there, pleaded guilty to his role in the deaths last September and was sentenced to life in prison in April.

El Shafee Elsheikh, 34, another former British national also extradited to the US at the same time, was found guilty of all charges in April, and will be sentenced next week.

The other “Beatles” executioner, Mohamed Emwazi, was killed by a US drone in Syria in 2015.

Elsheikh and Kotey were captured in January 2018 by a Kurdish militia in Syria and turned over to US forces in Iraq before being sent to the UK.

They were eventually flown to Virginia in 2020 to face charges of hostage-taking, conspiracy to murder US citizens and supporting a foreign armed organisation.

Davis served a seven-and-a-half-year sentence in Turkey for membership in the group, according to reports.

In 2014, his wife Amal el-Wahabi became the first person in the UK to be convicted of funding ISIL fighters after trying to send 20,000 euros – worth $25,000 at the time – to him in Syria.

She was jailed for 28 months and seven days following a trial in which Davis was described as a drug dealer before he went to Syria to fight with ISIL.

Source: News Agencies