British prosecutor authorises terrorism charges against IS 'Beatle'

LONDON (AFP) - A British man accused of being part of an Islamic State (IS) kidnap-and-murder cell known as the “Beatles” has been charged with terrorism offences after returning to the UK, police said Thursday.

Aine Davis, 38, was arrested after landing at Luton airport on a flight from Turkey, where he had been serving a prison sentence for terrorism offences, according to BBC News and other UK outlets.

He was allegedly a member of the IS cell, which held dozens of foreign hostages in Syria between 2012 and 2015 and was known to their captives as the "Beatles" because of their British accents.

“Mr Davis, 38, has been charged with terrorism offences and possession of a firearm for a purpose connected with terrorism,” the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Davis converted to Islam and adopted the name Hamza, the CPS said in a statement.

The Metropolitan Police, which leads anti-terror investigations in Britain, earlier said in a statement that officers had arrested a man at Luton airport.

But the London force, which does not name suspects until they are charged with a crime, did not name the person being held.

"The 38-year-old man was arrested this evening after he arrived into the UK on a flight from Turkey," the statement said.

The Met added he was arrested under several different sections of British anti-terrorism laws and taken to a south London police station "where he currently remains in police custody".

The suspect, who does not have a fixed address, was set to appear at a court in central London on Thursday morning.

Two convicted in US

The four members of the "Beatles" are accused of abducting at least 27 journalists and relief workers from the United States, Britain, Europe, New Zealand, Russia and Japan.

They were all allegedly involved in the murders of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.

The quartet allegedly tortured and killed the four American victims, including by beheading, and IS released videos of the murders for propaganda purposes.

Alexanda Kotey, a 38-year-old former British national extradited from Britain to the US in 2020 to face charges there, pleaded guilty to his role in the deaths last September and was sentenced to life in prison in April.

El Shafee Elsheikh, 34, another former British national also extradited to the US at the same time, was found guilty of all charges in April, and will be sentenced next week.

The other "Beatles" executioner, Mohamed Emwazi, was killed by a US drone in Syria in 2015.

Elsheikh and Kotey were captured in January 2018 by a Kurdish militia in Syria and turned over to US forces in Iraq before being sent to Britain.

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They were eventually flown to Virginia in 2020 to face charges of hostage-taking, conspiracy to murder US citizens and supporting a foreign terrorist organisation.

Davis served a seven-and-a-half-year sentence in Turkey for membership in the terrorist group, according to reports.

In 2014, his wife Amal El-Wahabi became the first person in Britain to be convicted of funding IS jihadists after trying to send 20,000 euros - worth US$25,000 at the time - to him in Syria.

She was jailed for 28 months and seven days following a trial in which Davis was described as a drug dealer before he went to Syria to fight with IS.

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