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Daesh fighter accused of links to 'Beatles' cell appears in UK court

By AFP - Feb 27,2023 - Last updated at Feb 27,2023

UK police lifted the lid Wednesday on a years-long probe into the notorious Daesh kidnap-and-murder cell dubbed the 'Beatles' by their captives (AFP photo)

LONDON — A convicted Daesh  member allegedly linked to the group's notorious "Beatles" kidnap-and-murder cell appeared in a UK court ahead of the planned start on Monday of his terror trial.

Aine Davis sat in the dock at London's Old Bailey criminal court, wearing a black skull cap and blue sweatshirt, speaking only to confirm his name.

He was named as a co-conspirator in the US trials of El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey, two members of the infamous group of hostage takers who grew up and were radicalised in London.

The group members were nicknamed the “Beatles” by their captives because of their distinctive British accents.

Active in Syria from 2012 to 2015, the group was allegedly involved in abducting more than two dozen journalists and relief workers hailing from the United States and other countries.

The hostages — some of whom were released after their governments paid ransoms — were from at least 15 countries, including Denmark, France, Japan, Norway, Spain and the United States.

Davis, who is in his late 30s, denies being a member of the group.

He faces two charges related to providing money for terrorist purposes and one of possessing a firearm for a purpose connected to terrorism.

The proceedings in his case opened on Monday, but hours of legal arguments were expected before the trial could formally start.

Davis was arrested in Turkey in 2015 and sentenced in 2017 to seven and a half years for membership in Daesh.

The group tortured and killed its victims, including by beheading, and released videos of the murders.

Davis was released in July last year and deported from Turkey the next month. He was re-arrested when he arrived at Britain’s Luton airport.

In 2014, his wife Amal El Wahabi became the first person in Britain to be convicted of funding Daesh after trying to send 20,000 euros — worth $25,000 at the time — to him in Syria.

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

Two of the “Beatles”, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey, have received life sentences in the United States.

Former British national Elsheikh was sentenced last year for the deaths of four US hostages in Syria.

The US trial featured emotional testimony from former hostages and was the most significant prosecution of a Daesh militant there.

Ten former European and Syrian hostages testified at Elsheikh’s trial, accusing the “Beatles” of months of brutal treatment including beatings, electric shocks, waterboarding and mock executions.

Elsheikh and Kotey were captured by a Kurdish militia in Syria in January 2018 and handed over to US forces in Iraq.

They were flown to the United States in 2020 to face trial. Kotey pleaded guilty in September 2021.

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