Families of Daesh ‘Beatles cell’ welcome their capture

File photo showing 2 members of the Daesh 'beatles cell' captured in Syria
Updated 09 February 2018
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Families of Daesh ‘Beatles cell’ welcome their capture

LONDON: The mother of a man murdered by the British-born Daesh extremists and a French hostage who survived captivity with their cell said the two fighters captured in Syria should spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Diane Foley, whose son James was kidnapped and eventually executed, welcomed the capture of Alexander Kotey and El-Shafee ElSheikh, two of the so-called “Beatles” cell, captured by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria, and said she wanted them to be put on trial and jailed for life.
“Their crimes are beyond imagination. They really have not done anything good in the world so I think they need to spend the rest of their life being held,” she said.
French journalist Nicolas Henin was held with other hostages, including fellow journalist James Foley, in an underground cell. One of his captors was Mohammed Emwazi, the Kuwaiti-born Briton nicknamed Jihadi John, who was notorious for his brutality.
Henin spent ten months in captivity — six of them in a cell underground in Syria and chained for long periods to three other French hostages.
He said there were also French extremists among their captors and firmly believes that all captured Daesh insurgents should be tried in their home country, including the two “Beatles.” Handing them over to the Americans to be sent to Guantanamo Bay would only breed more violence and turn them into martyrs, he added.
“The worst thing we can do with the terrorist is to deprive him of his rights, because then you make a terrorist become a victim, and if you victimize someone then you just fuel his narrative and you just confirm his narrative. So everybody has a right for a fair trial and for justice,” Henin said.
He and three compatriots were released in April 2014 after lengthy negotiations with the French government, although Francois Hollande, who was president of France at the time, insisted no ransom had been paid.
Senior SDF official Redur Xelil told Reuters on Friday that Kotey had been aiming to reach Turkey when he was captured by in a rural area of Raqqa province on Jan. 24.
“He was intending to escape toward Turkey with cooperation and coordination with friends of his on the Turkish side,” Xelil said. “He is now under investigation with us,” he said.
A senior security official in Turkey, however, said it was “nonsense” that Daesh militant would try to reach Turkey.
The group of four British Daesh militants were nicknamed the Beatles because of their British accents.
They are known to have captured at least 23 foreign hostages, nearly all of whom were ransomed or killed. The gang were known to torture their prisoners with tasers, water boarding and mock executions.
Some of their victims, including British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, were executed on camera.
Emwazi was killed in an airstrike in 2015 in Syria. Another member of the British cell, Aine Davis, is serving seven-and-a-half years in a Turkish prison after being convicted of terrorism charges.
The British defense secretary Gavin Williamson welcomed news that the two members of the British cell who remained at large had been captured.
“These are people who have done absolutely vile & despicable crimes and brought absolutely so much misery. It is good that they have been hunted down and caught,” he said.
Defense minister Tobias Ellwood, whose brother Jonathan was killed in a terrorist attack in Bali in 2002, said that while the rules of engagement on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria authorized the killing of terrorists, the two Britons should “answer and be judged to a legitimate authority” and called for a special court to be set up for the trials of Daesh militants.
“The horror of 9/11 meant we briefly lost sight of the standards and rule of law that took centuries to develop and fundamentally distinguish us from the terrorist. Guantanamo Bay created a new combatant status that bypassed the Geneva Convention, used torture and failed to address a wider global jihadist insurgency that continues today,” he said.
“Given the scale of foreign fighters attracted to Daesh, we should consider an agreed international process involving [the International Criminal Court at] the Hague which ensures terrorists from any origin are transparently and fairly held to account for their actions.”


More than 100 China experts urge China to release Canadians

In this file photo an undated picture released on December 11, 2018 in Washington by the International Crisis Group shows former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig. (AFP)
Updated 22 January 2019
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More than 100 China experts urge China to release Canadians

  • More than 20 diplomats from seven countries and more than 100 scholars and academics from 19 countries signed

TORONTO: More than 100 academics and former diplomats are calling on China to release two Canadians who have been detained in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a top Chinese tech executive in Canada.
The letter by a wide array of China experts from around the world is addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping. It says the arrests of the two Canadians sends a worrisome signal to those who work in policy and research in China.
China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested Dec. 1 at the request of US authorities.
Meng is the chief financial officer of the Chinese tech giant Huawei and the daughter of its founder. The US wants her extradited to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.
The letter, released Monday, notes Kovrig is a former diplomat who was working as an expert on Asia for the International Crisis Group think tank. It notes that Spavor devoted his time to building relationships between North Korea and China, Canada and United States.
It praises Kovrig and Spavor as bridge-builders between China and the world and said their arrests make writers “more cautious” about traveling to China.
“Meetings and exchanges are the foundation of serious research and diplomacy around the world, including for Chinese scholars and diplomats,” the letter says. “Kovrig and Spavor’s detentions send a message that this kind of constructive work is unwelcome and even risky in China.”
The letter said the arrests will lead to “less dialogue and greater distrust, and undermine efforts to manage disagreements and identify common ground. Both China and the rest of the world will be worse off as a result.”
More than 20 diplomats from seven countries and more than 100 scholars and academics from 19 countries signed.
Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, signed the letter and noted it comes as Canada is working to rally international support for the case.
“It will be noticed in Beijing and I hope that it will make clear for them that the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor are not only a China-Canada problem but it’s also having an impact on the image of and reputation of China,” Saint-Jacques said. “It’s an impressive list.”
The signatories include former British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans and Chris Patten, former British governor of Hong Kong. Two former US ambassadors to China, Gary Locke and Winston Lord, also signed.
David Mulroney, another former Canadian ambassador to China, said the letter is significant because it shows the international breadth of support for the two men.
“This isn’t simply a Canada-China dispute,” Mulroney said. “A lot of serious people, including many who have spent years working in China, are worried about how it is closing itself off, and punishing those who seek to understand and interpret it for others.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he encourages friends and allies around the world to point out that all countries should stand up for the rule of law.