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.”


Brennan: Trump worked with Russians and now he's desperate

Updated 45 min 32 sec ago
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Brennan: Trump worked with Russians and now he's desperate

  • Brennan cites press reports and Trump's own goading of Russia during the campaign to find Hillary Clinton's missing emails
  • "Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him," he wrote

WASHINGTON: Former CIA Director John Brennan said Thursday that President Donald Trump yanked his security clearance because his campaign colluded with the Russians to sway the 2016 election and is now desperate to end the special counsel's investigation.
In an opinion piece in The New York Times, Brennan cites press reports and Trump's own goading of Russia during the campaign to find Democrat Hillary Clinton's missing emails.
Trump himself drew a direct connection between the revocation of Brennan's clearance and the Russia probe, telling The Wall Street Journal the investigation is a "sham," and "these people led it!"
"So I think it's something that had to be done," Trump said.
Brennan wrote that Trump's claims of no collusion with Russia are "hogwash" and that the only question remaining is whether the collusion amounts to a "constituted criminally liable conspiracy."
"Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him," he wrote.
Brennan's loss of a security clearance was an unprecedented act of retribution against a vocal critic and politicizes the federal government's security clearance process. Former CIA directors and other top national security officials are typically allowed to keep their clearances, at least for some period, so they can be in a position to advise their successors and to hold certain jobs.
Trump said Wednesday he is reviewing the security clearances of several other former top intelligence and law enforcement officials, including former FBI Director James Comey. All are critics of the president or are people whom Trump appears to believe are against him.
Democrats called it an "enemies list," a reference to the Nixon White House, which kept a list of President Richard Nixon's political opponents to be targeted with punitive measures.
There was no reference to the Russia probe in a White House statement Wednesday in which Trump denounced Brennan's criticism of him and spoke anxiously of "the risks posed by his erratic conduct and behavior." The president said he was fulfilling his "constitutional responsibility to protect the nation's classified information."
Trump, his statement read by his press secretary, accused Brennan of having "leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the internet and television about this administration."
"Mr. Brennan's lying and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nations' most closely held secrets," Trump said.
In the Journal interview, Trump said he was prepared to yank Brennan's clearance last week but that it was too "hectic." The president was on an extended working vacation at his New Jersey golf club last week.
Brennan has indeed been deeply critical of Trump's conduct, calling his performance at a press conference last month with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland "nothing short of treasonous."
Brennan said Wednesday that he had not heard from the CIA or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that his security clearance was being revoked, but learned it when the White House announced it. There is no requirement that a president has to notify top intelligence officials of his plan to revoke a security clearance.
Trump's statement said the Brennan issue raises larger questions about the practice of allowing former officials to maintain their security clearances, and said that others officials' were under review.
They include Comey; James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence; former CIA Director Michael Hayden; former national security adviser Susan Rice; and Andrew McCabe, who served as Trump's deputy FBI director until he was fired in March.
Also on the list: fired FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was removed from the Russia investigation over anti-Trump text messages; former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom Strzok exchanged messages; and senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, whom Trump recently accused on Twitter of "helping disgraced Christopher Steele 'find dirt on Trump.'"
Ohr was friends with Steele, the former British intelligence officer commissioned by an American political research firm to explore Trump's alleged ties with the Russian government. He is the only current government employee on the list.
At least two of the former officials, Comey and McCabe, do not currently have security clearances, and none of the eight receive intelligence briefings. Trump's concern apparently is that their former status gives special weight to their statements, both to Americans and foreign foes.
Former intelligence officials said Trump has moved from threatening to revoke security clearances of former intelligence officials who have not been involved in the Russia investigation to former officials who did work on the probe. They spoke on condition of anonymity to share private conversations Trump has had with people who have worked in the field.
The CIA referred questions to the White House.
Clapper, reacting on CNN, called Trump's actions "unprecedented," but said he didn't plan to stop speaking out.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump's press secretary, insisted the White House wasn't targeting only Trump critics. But Trump did not order a review of the clearance held by former national security adviser Mike Flynn, who was fired from the White House for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian officials and later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Democrats, and even some Republicans, lined up to denounce the president's move, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., slamming it as a "stunning abuse of power." And California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, tweeted, "An enemies list is ugly, undemocratic and un-American."
Several Republicans also weighed in, with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., saying, "Unless there's something tangible that I'm unaware of, it just, as I've said before, feels like a banana republic kind of thing."
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