Two British “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS) elements who belonged to a kidnapping cell that was notorious for videotaping beheadings have been captured in Syria, AFP reported Thursday (February 8th).
The two members of the group who had still been in the field, Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh, were captured in January in eastern Syria by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US defence official confirmed Thursday.
The pair are believed to have "participated in the detention, exploitation and execution of Western detainees", the official said in a statement.
The two were also "believed to have acted as guards and interpreters involved in ISIS's illegal captivity of Western hostages, and are thought to have links to the British terrorist often called 'Jihadi John'," the official said.
Last year, the US State Department said Kotey had "likely" taken part in executions and used "exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electric shock and waterboarding", while guarding the group's captives.
Of the two other cell members, Mohammed Emwazi -- "Jihadi John" -- was killed in a coalition strike in 2015, and Aine Davis is being held in Turkey.
Overall, the cell handled more than 20 foreign hostages during the 2014-2015 period, earning a reported millions of dollars in ransom payments.
Hostages who survived reported being beaten and tortured. Among those killed were US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning.
"El-Shafee el-Sheikh and Kotey represent a small portion of the hundreds of foreign-born ISIS terrorists from several nations who have been taken off the battlefield by the SDF in eastern Syria since October 2017," the official said.
The British foreign ministry declined to confirm the capture, with an official saying it did not comment on individual cases or ongoing investigations.