Victim’s mother: IS duo should face trial

Media captionBethany Haines on the capture of IS duo

The families of some of the victims of an Islamic State group that beheaded hostages have said two captured fighters should face trial.

British fighters Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were captured by Syrian Kurdish forces.

Bethany Haines – whose father David, a British aid worker, was beheaded by the cell – said she hopes they die a “slow, painful death”.

Kotey and Elsheikh were two of four UK IS members known as “the Beatles”.

“They should be locked up and throw away the key,” Ms Haines said.

Should there be a trial, she said she would attend and “look them in the eye and let them know I am who I am and they have certainly destroyed a big part of my life. Hopefully there will be some justice.”

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Alexanda Kotey, left, and El Shafee Elsheikh were the last two members of the cell at large

Diane Foley – whose son James, an American journalist, was beheaded by the cell – said she wanted the two men to face life imprisonment.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “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”.

“It doesn’t bring James back, but hopefully it protects others from this kind of crime,” she said.

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James Foley was kidnapped by IS while reporting in Syria in 2012. In 2014, a video emerged showing his murder

Kotey and Elsheikh were the last two of “the Beatles”, so-called because of their British accents.

Kotey, from west London, was a guard for the execution cell. The US State Department says he took part in the torture of hostages and acted as a recruiter for IS.

Elsheikh “earned a reputation for waterboarding, mock executions, and crucifixions” while serving as the cell’s guard, the US state department says.

Both are designated terrorists by the US, which says they have used “exceptionally cruel torture methods.”

They worked with the cell’s alleged ring-leader, Mohammed Emwazi.

Dubbed Jihadi John, he was the masked militant from west London who featured in gruesome IS videos, taunting Western powers before beheading hostages.

Mr Foley was one of the victims whose death was seen in those videos. Others were British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, US journalist Steven Sotloff, and American aid worker Peter Kassig.

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Mr Haines was working for a French aid agency when he was captured by Islamic State militants

Emwazi was killed in a drone strike in 2015 in Raqqa, the former de facto IS capital in Syria.

Aine Davis, also from west London and the fourth member of the cell, was convicted of being a senior IS member. He was jailed in Turkey last year on terrorism charges after being arrested near Istanbul in 2015.

The father of Aine Davis has told the BBC that his son had nothing to do with the cell.

Nicolas Henin, a French journalist who spent 10 months as an IS captive, told Today that he wanted justice and not revenge.

He stressed that any attempt to deny the men of their civil rights would only feed IS’s claims of victimisation by the West.

“I will be extremely frustrated if they were not offered a fair trial and I don’t think the local authorities in northern Syria or detention in Guantanamo Bay would be justice,” he said.

US officials said the “execution cell” had beheaded at least 27 hostages and tortured many more. They confirmed the latest arrests.

Officials quoted by US media said the two men had been captured by members of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who are targeting remnants of IS.

A Kurdish official from the SDF has said Kotey was on his way to Turkey when he was captured.

“He was intending to escape towards Turkey with co-operation and co-ordination with friends of his on the Turkish side. He is now under investigation with us,” Redur Xelil said.

A Turkish security official called the claim “nonsense”.

‘Citizenship stripped’

It is understood that Kotey and Elsheikh have been stripped of their British citizenship, but the Home Office says it cannot comment on individual cases.

Under UK law, the home secretary has the right to revoke citizenship if the individual acts in a way that is not “conducive to public good” or “seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom”.

In recent years there has been an increasing use of these powers, particularly for those who may be involved in extremist activity or terror training overseas.

A Home Office Freedom of Information response in 2016 revealed there had been 81 deprivation of citizenship orders made between 2006-2015.

In November, the BBC uncovered details of a deal that let hundreds of IS fighters – including foreign militants – and their families escape from Raqqa in Syria.

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said that uncovering the whereabouts of unaccounted fighters after the fall of Raqqa was “top of the agenda” for Western security services.

Media captionUS-backed forces may be celebrating, but IS has not been defeated

Victim’s mother: IS duo should face trial}

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