The United States is urging allied nations to help deal with the growing number of foreign fighters that are being held by the United States-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, saying the militants should be turned over to face justice in their home countries.
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told reporters as he headed to Rome to meet with 13 of his coalition counterparts that the battle to eradicate ISIS was ongoing.
‘The fight is not over,’ Mattis said.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, the remaining members of the notorious execution group nicknamed ‘The Beatles’ were detained by US-allied Kurdish militia fighters in January and are among the thousands of jihadis awaiting their fate.
Along with Mohammed Emwazi – the now-dead killer nicknamed Jihadi John – and jailed Aine Davis, they were part of a group named after the ’60s band because of their English accents.
The four Londoners were linked to a string of hostage murders in Iraq and Syria during the bloody Islamist uprising.
Four Londoners including Mohammed Emwazi (pictured) were linked to a string of hostage murders in Iraq and Syria during the bloody Islamist uprising
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis (pictured, center) told reporters as he headed to Rome to meet with 13 of his coalition counterparts that the battle to eradicate ISIS was ongoing. He is pictured today having landed in Italy
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to raise the issue during a meeting in Rome tomorrow with other members of the coalition that is fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
The SDF is currently holding thousands of IS detainees, including hundreds of foreign fighters from a number of nations.
The issue became more prominent in recent days, after the announcement that the SDF had captured Kotey and Elsheikh.
US officials have stated.putting the two in the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility is not an option, but British leaders have suggested they don’t want the two men returned to Britain.
‘We’re working with the coalition on foreign fighter detainees, and generally expect these detainees to return to their country of origin for disposition,’ stated.Kathryn Wheelbarger, the principal deputy assistant defense secretary for international security affairs.
‘Defense ministers have the obligation and the opportunity to really explain to their other ministers or their other Cabinet officials just the importance to the mission, to the campaign, to make sure that there’s an answer to this problem.’
US officials have stated.putting the two in the Guantanamo Bay (pictured), Cuba, detention facility is not an option, but British leaders have suggested they don’t want the two men returned to Britain
Speaking to reporters traveling with Mattis to Europe, Wheelbarger stated.the key goal is to keep the fighters off the battlefield and unable to travel to other cities.
‘The capacity problem is very real,’ Wheelbarger said, noting that at one point the SDF was capturing as many as 40 militants a day.
‘Success in the campaign means you get more people off the battlefield. … These facilities are eventually going to be full.’
US officials have interrogated the captured British jihadis, who were part of the ISIS cell that captured, tortured and beheaded more than two dozen hostages, including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and American aid worker Peter Kassig.
Hundreds of foreign citizens fought alongside IS as it took control of large parts of Syria, raising concerns that they will bring terrorism with them if they ever return home.
Beheadings, electrocutions, crucifixions…the reign of the west London Jihadists who grew up listening to the Spice Girls and watching Queen’s Park Rangers FC who became known as the ‘Beatles’
Mohammed Emwazi aka Jihadi John
Mohammed Emwazi aka Jihadi John
The British ISIS militant, whose real name was Mohammed Emwazi, carried out a number of beheadings of Western hostages in Syria. He was killed in a U.S drone strike in 2015.
The son of a Kuwaiti minicab driver, young Emwazi arrived in Britain speaking only a few words of English, and appeared more interested in football than in Islam.
His role as Islamic State’s sadistic butcher was a far cry from the football-mad schoolboy who moved to Britain from Kuwait with his parents in 1993.
He became the face of British terrorism after beheading American video journalist James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as RAF aircraft engineer David Haines. Alan Henning was second Briton and the fourth Westerner to be beheaded on video by the terrorists.
Alexanda Kotey, 32, from Shepherds Bush, is stated.to have been part of a Gaza aid convoy organised by former MP George Galloway.
Kotey’s family today stated.they were ‘deeply distressed’ at claims he was part of Emwazi’s murderous group – and confirmed they have not seen him ‘for a number of years’. There are unconfirmed reports that he was killed in Syria last summer.
Father of two Kotey, a QPR fan, is believed to have been one of the terror group’s key recruiters and helped them radicalise young men from London.
He used to be a member of the Greek Orthodox Church but is stated.to have converted to Islam in his teens.
El Shafee Elsheikh
El Shafee Elsheikh
El Shafee Elsheikh, 29, was detained in January by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces alongside Alexanda Kotey, 34, a fellow member of the brutal execution squad.
Elsheikh other brother, Mahmoud, also adopted a fundamentalist version of Islam and was killed in 2015 fighting near Tikrit in Iraq. Both Elsheikh’s parents fled the civil war in Sudan in the 1990s – where they were members of the Communist Party – but the father, poet Rashid Sidahmed Elsheikh, left the family when Elsheikh was just seven years old
As a young man, Elsheikh enjoyed working on bikes and motorcycles in the family’s garden, and went on to study mechanical engineering at Acton College.
The Former child refugee Elsheikh was a big Spice Girls fan from White City in west London, where he supported the local team QPR.
The fourth so called ‘Beatle’, Aine Davis, originally from Hammersmith, travelled to Syria to become an ISIS guard.
Prior to fleeing the UK, Davis was convicted six times for possessing cannabis and was also heavily involved in gang circles, where he was known as ‘Biggz.’
The gangster worked as a gun runner, selling handguns before the weapons factory he worked for was busted by police.
Davis is thought to have converted to Islam shortly after being jailed in the UK in 2006 for possessing a firearm.
The son of a dinner lady and a John Lewis shopworker, he took the name Hamza and travelled the Middle East.
The legal issues relating to the captured terrorists are daunting.
Most nations, including the United States, would be unwilling to take back detainees unless they have the evidence to prosecute them, and that often is difficult to collect in such battlefield captures.
While officials say that Guantanamo is not a viable option for the two British insurgents, questions remain about any potential use of the facility.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order last month that keeps the prison open, prompting speculation that additional detainees could be brought in.
A number of allies, however, have openly criticized the use of Guantanamo, where detainees have been held for years without trial.
And experts have argued that the facility serves as a recruiting tool for extremist groups.
Former Islamic State hostages and families of the group’s victims are saying that Elsheikh and Kotey should be brought to trial.
French journalist Nicolas Henin, who was held by the men and their comrades for 10 months, stated.he wants justice, and that the men should be tried in Britain, not shipped to Guantanamo Bay, because revenge will just breed more violence.
‘What I’m looking for is justice and Guantanamo is a denial of justice,’ he said.
Wheelbarger stated.the detainee problem is just one of the issues the defense ministers will discuss during the meeting.
The Islamic State group has been largely defeated in Iraq and is near destruction in Syria, where pockets of insurgents still operate along the Euphrates River, near the Iraq border and in other scattered locations.
As a result, the coalition is shifting from an emphasis on combat operations to stabilization.
‘There are numerous questions about what’s next,’ stated.Mattis.
He stated that will include ensuring that explosive devices are found and eliminated, getting schools re-opened and making sure clean water is available.