Jihadi ‘Beatles’ Admit Beating Western Hostages, Were Kayla Mueller’s Jailers

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AP/Hussein Malla

Two of the four British nationals-turned Islamic State jihadists dubbed ‘The Beatles’ have admitted to beating Western hostages, as well as being jailers of American aid worker Kayla Mueller.

Jihadists Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, who were captured by Kurdish fighters in 2018 and are being held by the U.S. military in Iraq, had told the BBC two years ago that they had never encountered “foreign non-Muslims” and had never heard of Kayla Mueller, the American foreign aid worker who was kidnapped one day after arriving in Syria.

However, in an interview obtained by NBC News and aired on Thursday, they both admitted to seeing her.

Elsheikh, the son of Sudanese refugees, admitted he and Kotey were “liaisons” for Western hostages, in the demand for ransom money. He told the reporter that he had taken the email address of Mueller’s parents from her so that the terror group could extort £4.55 million.

“I took an email from her. I took an email from her myself,” Elsheikh said. “She was in a large room, it was dark, and she was alone, and … she was very scared.”

Kotey confirmed: “She was in a room by herself that no one would go in.”

The U.S. State Department believes that the now-dead Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had repeatedly raped the young aid worker, who was in ISIS captivity for 18 months. Islamic State claimed she was killed during a Jordanian airstrike, but her body has never been recovered.

The jihadists also claim that they were not involved in the torture or killing of prisoners, but admitted to violently assaulting them, with Elsheikh telling the interviewer: “I didn’t choke Jim [James Foley].”

He added: “If I choked Jim I would say I choked him. I mean, I’ve — I’ve hit him before. I’ve hit most of the prisoners before.”

Kotey also admitted intentionally hitting a Danish prisoner so hard that it would leave a mark that would be visible in a photograph, sent in a threatening message to the Dane’s family.

The U.S. State Department denies the jihadists’ claims that they were not involved with torture or murdering Western hostages, saying of Elsheikh that he had “earned a reputation for waterboarding, mock executions, and crucifixions while serving as an ISIS jailer”. While Kotey, as a guard, “likely engaged in the group’s executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electronic shock and waterboarding”.

It is not clear how NBC obtained the interview, but The Telegraph speculates it was filmed while the two were still in Kurdish custody in Syria, some time before October 2019.

Former West London residents Kotey, Elsheikh, Mohammed Emwazi, and Muslim convert Aine Davis formed an Islamic State “execution” cell said to be responsible for the deaths of 27 Western hostages in Iraq and Syria, including British aid workers Alan Henning and David Haines and three Americans, journalist James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Peter Kassig.

They are also believed to have guarded and tortured numerous hostages. Their captives dubbing them “The Beatles” because of their English accents, with each given the monikers “John”, “Paul”, “George”, and “Ringo”.

Kuwaiti-born Emwazi — “Jihadi John” — appeared in the beheading videos of Henning, Haines, and Foley. Emwazi, the ringleader, was vapourised in a CIA drone strike in 2015. Davis was captured, tried, and found guilty of terror offences by a court in Turkey in 2017, where he is serving seven years in prison.

Kotey and Elsheikh were stripped of their British citizenship in 2018, which Elsheikh claimed was “illegal” and made them vulnerable to “rendition and torture”.

The U.S. is reportedly considering whether to send them to the United States for trial or the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

However, if they are released from U.S. custody, Elsheikh and Kotey may attempt to legally return to the United Kingdom to challenge the stripping of their citizenships, according to The Guardian. Last week, former-teen ISIS bride Shamima Begum won her court battle to return to Britain to take the government to court after she was stripped of her British citizenship. The Henry Jackson Society estimates the ruling could lead to some 150 other Islamists to attempt legal returns, as well.

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