Two British jihadis revealed as members of ISIS ‘Beatles’ execution cell
Two members of the notorious ISIS ‘Beatles’, led by the terror group’s chief executioner Jihadi John, have been identified.
One of the men, Alexanda Kotey, 32, from Shepherds Bush, is said to have been part of a Gaza aid convoy organised by former MP George Galloway.
He and the other so called ‘Beatle’, Aine Davis, from Hammersmith, both attended the same mosque as Mohammed Emwazi – better known as Jihadi John.
Both extremists worked as cruel prison guards who tormented foreign inmates at an ISIS jail in Syria, an investigation by Buzzfeed and Washington Post found.
Kotey’s family today said they were ‘deeply distressed’ at claims he was part of Emwazi’s murderous group – and confirmed they have not seen him ‘for a number of years’. There are unconfirmed reports that he was killed in Syria last summer.
Father of two Kotey, a QPR fan, used to be a member of the Greek Orthodox Church but is said to have converted to Islam in his teens.
He attended the al-Manaar mosque in Ladbroke Grove, west London, with Emwazi and Davis, it has been claimed.
A local community worker said the trio were ‘physically ejected’ from the mosque because of their extremist views.
He told ITV News: ‘I believe the mosque took steps to stop them from holding their little classrooms.
He also suggested Kotey was the ringleader, adding: ‘He would definitely be standing there with, I’d say a dozen boys all listening to him. He was the speaker. He was the spokesman in that little group.’
After he was thrown out, Kotey began organising private meetings to discuss Islam. Several extremists who have since travelled to Syria attended his lectures.
‘[Kotey] always had a lot of currency and pulled a lot of people into his orbit,’ a close friend of Kotey and Davis’ told ITV News, adding that he was a ‘polite and well spoken person.
They added: ‘It was Alex most definitely who was the lynchpin. The mosque did so much to keep these people at the fringes.’
‘He radiates a road man influence – someone who has had a lot of experiences in life, had a lot of hardships and people younger than him… look up to him and he can speak to people on the level.
‘He could have been in trouble with the police, he was like a politician, and he works the room. People were dispossessed and he was a magnet for those people, he understands that energy.’
Kotey, Davis and Emwazi were part of the ‘London boys’ – a group of young radical Muslim extremists, predominantly from West London who advocated fanaticism and violence.
The group was linked to 7/7 bombings and the failed 21/7 attack in London.
Alongside fellow London Boys member Reza Afsharzadegan, an Iranian-born IT student from the Ladbroke grove area, Kotey travelled to Gaza as part of an aid convoy led by Galloway in 2009.
Mr Galloway told ITV news he does not remember meeting Kotey. His spokesman Ron McKay said: ‘There were 500 people on that convoy and George can’t ever remember laying eyes on this guy. It’s possible he was there but George doesn’t remember meeting him.’
He said there was a vetting procedure for those who applied to be on the convoy but he had never heard Kotey’s name before.
He added: ‘It [the aid convoy] predates the formation of IS and there were something like 120 vehicles and around 500 people on it.
Kotey, who is half Ghanaian, half Greek Cypriot, is thought to have travelled to the ISIS-held city of Raqqa, where he became one of the four prison guards known as the Beatles.
It is unclear if Kotey was the guard nicknamed ‘Ringo’ or ‘George’ although it was believed that someone claiming to be Ringo wrote on an Ask.Fm forum page that he was a QPR fan from Shepherd’s Bush.
After Kotey converted to Islam, he acquired an Islamic name and started to grow a beard and wear Islamic robes.
As his views being more radical, he would challenge his moderate Muslim friends, according to one former friend of the jihadi.
The former friend recalled how Kotey would try to argue in favour of suicide bombing, insisting it was justifiable in accordance with the Koran.
‘He was certainly the most vocal… He would definitely be standing there with, I’d say, a dozen boys all listening to him. He was the speaker. He was the spokesman in that little group,’ a local community worker told ITV.
Kotey became a key recruiter for ISIS, encouraging at least three former students of Holland Park school to join the jihadi group.
Brothers Flamur, 23, and Fatlum Shalaku, 20, of Ladbroke Grove, west London, both travelled to Syria and were recruited by Kotey, according to ITV.
After initially joining ISIS, the brothers switched their allegiances to ISIS. When Flamur was killed in Iraq in March 2015, his brother struggled to deal with his death, according to one British ISIS fighter.
He signed up to become a suicide bomber and drove a truck laden with explosives into government buildings in Ramadi, allowing ISIS to briefly capture the city.
Neighbours reported that the brothers, who are of Kosovan-Albanian descent became radicalised and went to Syria in 2013, telling their parents they were travelling to do aid work.
They are both said to have been friends of Mohammed Nasser, 21, who died fighting for ISIS after shrapnel hit him in the head.
Nasser, of Eritrean origin, travelled to Syria with his best friend Hamza Parvez, also a former Holland Park student.
Alexanda Kotey is thought to have been close friends with Davis. They attended the same mosque as Kotey and is thought to have been one of the guards, known as the Beatles, at an ISIS prison holding foreign hostages in Syria.
He was also the jihadi at the centre of a sensational court trial last year which saw his wife, Amal el-Wahabi, jailed for funding terrorism while university student Nawal Msaad, 27, was sensationally cleared of trying to smuggle £16,000 in her underwear to Syria.
The court case revealed how Davis had a controlling presence over his wife, Amal el-Wahabi, who was convicted of helping to fund raise his life in Syria.
Prior to travelling to Syria, Davis was convicted six times for possessing cannabis and was also heavily involved in gang circles, where he was known as ‘Biggz’.
The gangster worked as a gun runner, selling handguns before the weapons factory he worked for was busted by police.
It is unclear when Davis converted to Islam and adopted the name Hamza. When police raided his wife’s home, Davis’s iPod revealed he used to listen to lectures by radical American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
He met his wife Amal el-Wahabi at Westbourne Park mosque in 2006 and despite the disapproval of her parents, they developed a close relationship.
Davis’ new found interest in religion led him to persuade his girlfriend that they should move to Yemen.
Davis enrolled at a madrasa to study Arabic and the Qur’an, only for the couple to return to the UK when Amal became pregnant.
The relationship fell apart just two months before their first child was born in 2009. Davis embarked on several trips to the Middle East, visiting Saudi Arabia, Egypt and returned briefly to Yemen.
Two years later, Davis and el-Wahabi restarted their relationship for a second time and by May 2013, the couple had their second child.
Despite the new birth, Davis left el-Wahabi two months later, travelling first to Turkey before crossing into Syria and joining ISIS.
In late December 2015, Turkish authorities arrested three suspected members of the ISIS in Istanbul, including two Pakistanis and a Briton, who are thought to be linked to an associate of Jihadi John.
The British man, named only as Hasan H, was detained at a bus stop in the conservative Fatih district of Istanbul.
The two Pakistani suspects were detained following a raid on their homes in Istanbul’s central Mecidiyekoy district, according to local media.
Their capture is believed to have led to information and the eventual capture of Hasan H after police expanded the operation.
All have now been remanded in custody by a court and no other details have been released about their alleged links with the jihadi group.