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.”


North Korea slams US for ‘evil’ sanctions push

Updated 4 min 50 sec ago
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North Korea slams US for ‘evil’ sanctions push

  • The declaration threatens to upset the negotiations between Washington and the nuclear-armed North
  • Washington has been adamant the measures should be maintained until Pyongyang’s complete denuclearization

SEOUL: North Korea’s state media on Tuesday slammed the United States for an “evil” attempt to maintain sanctions against Pyongyang, accusing President Donald Trump of blocking progress in inter-Korean relations.
The declaration threatens to upset the negotiations between Washington and the nuclear-armed North, in which Trump is expected to hold a second summit soon with Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong Un.
At their first meeting in Singapore in June they signed a vaguely-worded pledge on denuclearization, but little progress has been made since then with the two sides sparring over the meaning of the text.
Pyongyang has not made any explicit public promise to give up its existing arsenal but has repeatedly called for UN Security Council sanctions imposed over its weapons programs to be loosened, citing a freeze in its nuclear and missile tests.
For its part Washington has been adamant the measures should be maintained until Pyongyang’s complete denuclearization.
Washington was playing a “double game,” said a lengthy commentary carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency, and was “little short of destroying” the rare diplomatic opportunity between the two.
“Hostile policy and reciprocity can not go together,” it said, and negotiations would not move forward “an inch with an obstacle called sanctions.”
“The US... is responding to good faith with evil,” it added.
KCNA said the article, nearly 1,700 words long and titled “What Do Ill-boding Remarks from US Signify,” had been “made public” by Kim Chol Myong.
No further details about its origins or the author’s affiliation were given, suggesting that “Kim Chol Myong” is likely to be a pseudonym.
But the fact that it was carried by Pyongyang’s official news agency indicates that it has the authorities’ approval.
It was published just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang and said he had “productive” talks on denuclearization with the North Korean leader.
After an earlier Pompeo visit in July the North issued an angrily-worded official foreign ministry statement condemning what it called his “unilateral” demands for its disarmament, describing them as “gangster-like.”
It cast doubt on the prospects for progress — even though it proclaimed “our good faith in President Trump” — and prompted the US leader to cancel a scheduled August trip to Pyongyang by his Secretary of State, before a fresh round of visits and a letter from Kim restarted the process.
But Tuesday’s declaration went further, implicitly criticizing the US leader — who is known to consider personal relationships important.
Without naming Trump, it referred to his comments last week that Seoul would not lift its own sanctions against the North “without our approval.”
“Even the White House made such threatening words,” KCNA said, “enraging not only south Koreans but all other Koreans.”
South Korea’s dovish President Moon Jae-in — who has held three meetings with Kim this year — has vowed to honor the UN sanctions but agreed to pursue a handful of joint economic projects with the North.
After his visit this month Pompeo said Kim had agreed to allow international inspectors to visit a nuclear test site that the North dismantled in May but did not elaborate on any offers made by the US in return.