In what may come as a surprise, given that Isis were so devoted to the idea of people blowing themselves up in the name of Martyrdom, two British fighters who were a part of the Islamic State group’s execution cell have been captured alive in Syria.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were captured by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in January. They were two of the four British Isis members commonly known as “the Beatles”. They were named after the 60s band because of their English accents.
Kotey, from west London, acted as a guard for the execution cells. According to the US State Department, he took part in the torture of hostages and also acted as a recruiter for Isis. Elsheikh also acted as a guard, and earned a reputation for waterboarding, mock executions, and crucifixions, the US state department says. Both men are designated terrorists by the US, which says they have used “exceptionally cruel torture methods.”
American Diane Foley, whose journalist son James was beheading was filmed and shared on social networks by the terrorists, says she wants the two men to face life imprisonment, saying “Their crimes are beyond imagination.” Mrs Foley said that she would like the men to face trial in the US but she would be “most grateful” as long as “they are brought to fair trial and detained and justice is served”.
Frenchman Nicolas Henin, a journalist who spent 10 months as an Isis prisoner, also says that he wants the two terrorists to face justice. He said that if the two were deprived of their civil rights, it would only feed Isis’s claims of victimisation by the West. “For them, they were doing it for revenge, against all the grievances they can argue against the western world, which are largely fantasised, and this is why I am now looking for justice and not revenge,” he said.
Tonight, the UK’s Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson welcomed the news, saying ‘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.’
It is believed that Kotey and Elsheikh have been stripped of their British citizenship, but the Home Office says it cannot comment on individual cases.
Unnamed US Officials told the New York Times that Kotey and Elsheikh were captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces which were fighting the last remaining pockets of Isis fighters near the river Euphrates on the Iraq/Syria border. The Syrian fighters who captured them notified US officials in January, and the men’s identities were confirmed using fingerprints and other biometric data.
Their capture was first reported by the New York Times, who say that American officials had wanted to keep the news secret, to allow analysts more time to pursue and then act on valuable intelligence obtained through their detention.
The leaders of Isis were keen to talk about martyrdom, and keen to condemn others to it. After all the tough talk and posing with guns and knives in front of cameras, teaching children how to hate and torturing and murdering prisoners, it’s all the more surprising to hear how many of the overseas fighters melted away as soon as the going got tough, and how few of them took the martyr’s death and glory way out.
These two terrorists are no different; small time criminals who took up the chance to become big-time murderers in the name of Isis, who preferred capture to wearing suicide belts. Murderers, not men of steel.
We’re not convinced that a public trial, which will allow them another opportunity to show their fake bravado and spout their hate for the benefit of listening journalists, is a good idea. A private trial, maybe. Arrest anybody who dares to defend these people’s ‘human rights’. They surrendered those years ago.
We don’t care where the trial happens, provided they can guarantee that these two, and any others who are caught and handed over, are locked away for whatever remains of their lives, with no possibility of release, in rooms with 4 walls, barred windows, hard beds, a prayer mat and a hole in the floor for a toilet. As a minimum. Nothing else.