El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, two ISIS members of the so-called Beatles group, whose British citizenship was withdrawn following the accusations, were captured in 2018 by Kurdish forces and later detained in Iraq.
The transfer of evidence from the UK on the involvement of the two in the beheading in 2014 in Syria and Iraq of four US citizens – including journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and two Britons – humanitarian workers David Haines and Alan Henning – rejected the request of El Shafee Elsheikh’s mother not to use the information in the US trial.
The hearing to challenge Secretary of State Priti Patel’s decision was held urgently after the US government suggested it would transfer the trial of the pair of suspects to Iraq, where they risk being sentenced to death if they do not receive the evidence by mid-October, reports The Independent.
According to The Guardian, US Attorney General William Barr wrote to the British Secretary of State in August to confirm that he was waiving the death penalty in exchange for British cooperation. As a rule, the United Kingdom does not cooperate in trials in other countries if the death penalty is at stake.
“Another postponement is no longer possible for Kotey and Elsheikh to be tried in the United States, and it would be an injustice to the families of the victims,” Barr said.
Maha Elgizouli’s lawyers, who have pleaded under data protection law, this month called for a judicial review of Patel’s August 24 decision to grant a request for “mutual legal assistance” from the United States. The Independent.
They argued that the transfer of evidence was not “strictly necessary” as the prosecution was to decide whether there was enough evidence for a trial in Britain – which would be in the US’s favor, according to US authorities.
The couple is accused of being part of an executioner cell in Syria called “Beatles” which had as a member Mohammed Emwazi known as ‘Jihadi John’, killed in 2015 in an American air raid. The fourth member, Aine Davis, was sentenced in Turkey in 2017 and is serving a seven-year sentence.
El Shafee Elsheikh, 36, and Alexanda Kotey, 32, grew up in Britain and joined ISIS shortly after ISIS rose to Syria. ISIS has taken control of an 88,000-square-kilometer area between western Syria and eastern Iraq, inhabited by nearly 8 million people.