Hostages gave important assist to establish British IS gang members in Syria


Freed hostages had been capable of give British police important data that recognized three of the Islamic State kidnap gang that had held and tortured them in Syria, it has been revealed.

Scotland Yard has disclosed the breakthroughs that allowed it to establish three of the jihadis often called “the Beatles” and produce two of them to trial within the US. The hostages’ data helped police establish the boys on a march with a bunch linked to the novel group al-Muhajiroun, along with using voice recognition software program.

Mohammed Emwazi, often called Jihadi John, first featured in a video launched by IS in 2014 exhibiting a masked man with a British accent taking pictures a prisoner.

Police had been capable of find tapes of police interviews with Emwazi in 2012, when he was questioned a few sequence of bicycle thefts, and evaluate that together with his voice within the hostage movies.

An professional forensic voice analyst concluded there was a “very robust chance” the particular person within the video was Emwazi.

Officers then began to slim down the pool of different potential members of the group, in the end main them to establish Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, each from west London.

Richard Smith, the top of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command (SO15), mentioned police adopted a “path of very small breadcrumbs” and constructing the case was “like placing collectively very small items of a jigsaw”.

One piece of knowledge emerged from the hostages they spoke to, which was “pretty unremarkable” to the hostage however proved very important to police.

It was the recollection of a dialog the place one of many captors talked about that he had been arrested at an English Defence League march in London.

Based mostly on that snippet of dialog, the investigation workforce was ready to return and establish a selected EDL march that passed off in London on 11 September 2011.

The march was a counter-demonstration in opposition to a march by Muslims In opposition to Crusades to mark the tenth anniversary of the September 11 assaults, which started on the US embassy in Grosvenor Sq..

There have been numerous flashpoints round central London and at about 6pm police had been known as to the Tyburn pub in Marble Arch, the place a stabbing had taken place and numerous males had been arrested on suspicion of involvement.

Data confirmed that two of these arrested had been Kotey and Elsheikh.

“Each of the boys in the end had been launched with out cost for that offence, however the data was invaluable in serving to us to zero in on them as being the boys the hostages had described to us,” Smith mentioned.

The Metropolitan police’s SO15 workforce took the chance to overview information from Kotey and Elsheikh’s telephones, which had been seized on the time of the arrest, and so they confirmed numerous messages between them.

Additionally they discovered Elsheikh’s quantity saved on Emwazi’s cellphone, which had been downloaded when he was questioned over bike thefts.

One other essential piece of proof linking Elsheikh on to terrorist exercise in Syria got here because of officers taking a contemporary take a look at proof in an unrelated case.

In 2014, Elsheikh’s brother, Khalid, was arrested by Operation Trident, the Met’s anti-gangs unit, and a handgun discovered at his tackle.

His cell phone was seized and located to include disturbing photographs. That prompted the unit to contact SO15, which undertook a fuller examination.

Police found numerous Telegram messages between Elsheikh and his brother, exhibiting that Elsheikh was in Syria.

One of many messages confirmed Elsheikh in fight clothes and holding a firearm. One other confirmed a graphic image of decapitated heads with commentary from Elsheikh.

After Kotey and Elsheikh’s detention in Syria, officers re-analysed the information utilizing digital interrogation software program – which had improved within the intervening years – and additional materials was found.

A voice message was additionally recognized from somebody they believed was Elsheikh, which had been despatched to his brother.

After discovering that voice message, they situated a police interview tape with Elsheikh from 2009 and voice specialists had been capable of evaluate the 2 recordings and conclude there was a “very robust chance” that Elsheikh was the particular person within the voice word.

Final 12 months, British police obtained authorisation from the legal professional normal for 139 prices in opposition to Kotey and Elsheikh, together with kidnap and homicide, however they had been already within the US.

The pair had been stripped of their British citizenship after their seize by the western-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in 2018 and despatched to the US for prosecution.

Elsheikh, 33, from White Metropolis, faces sentencing on Friday. Kotey, 38, from Shepherd’s Bush, west London, was jailed for all times in Virginia in April, after admitting kidnap, conspiracy to homicide and offering materials assist for terrorism.

The IS group, nicknamed the Beatles by their hostages due to their British accents, had been chargeable for the kidnap and holding of greater than 20 westerners, and the killing of a minimum of seven of them, together with Britons David Haines and Alan Henning.

Emwazi from Queen’s Park, west London, was often called “John”. He was killed on the age of 27 in a US drone assault on 12 November 2015. Elsheikh and Kotey had been often called “Ringo” and “George”.

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