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Canada Syria: two ISIS jihadists nicknamed "Beatles" transferred to the United States

23:50  07 october  2020
23:50  07 october  2020 Source:   leparisien.fr

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Sur ces images fournies les Forces démocratiques syriennes, les combattants de l’Etat-Islamique, El Shafee el-Sheikh (g) et Alexanda Kotey (d). © AFP On these images provided the Syrian Democratic Forces, the fighters of the Islamic State, El Shafee el-Sheikh (l) and Alexanda Kotey (d).

Two jihadists from the Islamic State group nicknamed the “Beatles” are due to be transferred to the United States on Wednesday, where they will be tried for the hostage-taking and murder of several journalists and foreign aid workers. More details on this transfer, the first step in view of an extraordinary trial, will be delivered at a press conference.

Declining British nationality, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh were part of a quartet nicknamed by its hostages "the Beatles" because of the English accent of its members.

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"They were the leaders of a brutal group responsible for the hostage-taking of European and American citizens, among others, from 2012 to 2015", according to the indictment adopted by a grand jury of the federal court of Alexandria, near Washington.

Tortured and beheaded hostages

During this period, their group kidnapped several foreigners, tortured and beheaded some captives, and often portrayed their ordeal in propaganda videos.

Among their victims are four Americans: journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, killed in 2014, and aid workers Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig.

Their families hailed in a press release "a first step in the quest for justice". These four young Americans "saw the suffering of the Syrian people and wanted to help, either by providing humanitarian aid, or by making the world aware of the developments of the crisis in Syria", they stressed.

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Under US military control since 2019

Captured in January 2018 by Kurdish forces in Syria, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh were placed under US military control in October 2019 in Iraq, due to the Turkish offensive in northern Syria.

In 2015, the United States had filed a request for mutual legal assistance with the British authorities to obtain evidence against the thirty-something.

But London had taken a "break" in 2018 in this cooperation. The British government then suffered a shower of criticism for having refrained from asking that the death penalty be spared them if they were tried, a departure from its opposition in principle to the death penalty.

A fourth "Beatle" imprisoned in Turkey

At the end of August, the United States assured that they would spare the death penalty for the two jihadists and the British justice system had been able to endorse mutual legal assistance. In the process, the elements of evidence requested could have been transmitted to the United States.

Another member of the cell, Mohammed Emwazi, nicknamed "Jihadi John", who had distinguished himself by appearing all in black dressed with a butcher's knife on propaganda videos, was killed in an American bombing raid on Syria in November 2015.

The fourth "Beatles" remains imprisoned in Turkey. Besides the Americans, the "Beatles" also executed Briton David Haines, an aid worker beheaded in 2014 after being detained for 18 months.

Sophie Pétronin: "I accepted what was happening to me" .
© Malian Presidency / AP The former French hostage Sophie Pétronin at the presidential palace in Bamako after her release on October 8, 2020. La French Sophie Pétronin was released Thursday, October 8 after four years in the hands of the jihadists of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), in northern Mali. The 75-year-old humanitarian aid worker, who appeared tired on arrival at Bamako airport, gave an interview to RFI. How is your health? Sophie Pétronin: My health is going very well.

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