Alleged member of ISIS' 'the Beatles' cell makes first court appearance

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
An armoured police van, believed to be carrying Aine Davis, arrives at The City of Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday.
An armoured police van, believed to be carrying Aine Davis, arrives at The City of Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday.
Leon Neal/Getty Images
  • A British man accused of being part of the ISIS group known as "the Beatles" has appeared in court.
  • Aine Davis was deported from Turkey to the UK.
  • The "Beatles" cell allegedly kidnapped and murdered people. They were given that name for their British accents.


A British man accused of being part of an Islamic State (IS) kidnap-and-murder cell known as the "Beatles" was remanded in custody Thursday on terrorism charges after Turkey deported him to the UK.

Aine Davis, 38, was an alleged member of the IS cell that 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.

Two of the four have already been brought to justice in the United States for the gruesome beheadings and killings of several American captives, while another of the quartet died in Syria.

IN QUOTES | World leaders react to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

British police arrested Davis after he was deported by Turkish authorities and landed at Luton airport near London late Wednesday.

He faces three counts under UK terrorism laws, two related to terrorism fundraising in 2014 and one related to possessing a firearm.

Appearing at a London magistrates' court flanked by two suited police officers Thursday morning, Davis - sporting a short beard and grey T-shirt - spoke only to confirm his name and that he was of no fixed abode.

His lawyer confirmed he would not be entering a plea or seeking bail at this stage.

Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring said bail would in any case be refused partly due to Davis' "propensity to travel on forged documents" and ordered him held in prison.

He referred the case to the crown court, which deals with serious criminal offences, with a pre-trial hearing set for September 2 at the central criminal court, known as the Old Bailey.

Goldspring noted that if convicted, Davis will face "years, not months" in jail.

US trials

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

The accused cell members, who all grew up in west London, 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 the UK 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.

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

There they faced federal court charges of hostage-taking, conspiracy to murder US citizens and supporting a foreign terrorist organisation.

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

Wife convicted

Davis was arrested in Istanbul in 2015 by Turkish authorities on suspicion of being an IS member, and was using a forged travel document, the magistrates' court heard Thursday.

He was convicted in Turkey 18 months later, sentenced to seven-and-a-half years imprisonment, and released in July into an immigration detention centre where he remained until he was deported this week.

Detailing its case, CPS prosecutor Kashif Malik said Davis converted to Islam and adopted the name Hamza, visiting countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between 2007 and 2012 with his wife Amal El-Wahabi.

In 2014, she became the first person in Britain to be convicted of funding IS jihadists after trying to send 20 000 euros - worth $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 going to fight with IS in 2013.

"It's believed that this (money) was to be collected by Mr Davis or an associate," Malik told the court Thursday, noting it had been raised in the UK "to support terrorism".

He said Davis had sent messages and photos to his wife from Syria.

"It is plain from images that Davis sent to El-Wahabi that he has been with fighters in Syria and was not in Syria for lawful purposes," he added. "On occasions he was in possession of a firearm."

A 2014 search of the couple's London property found speeches by Osama bin Laden and prominent Al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, Malik said.

"We believe this was material left behind by Mr Davis," he added.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 383 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
82% - 4670 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
11% - 654 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
18.09
-0.8%
Rand - Pound
20.21
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.74
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.59
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.0%
Gold
1,660.90
0.0%
Silver
19.03
0.0%
Palladium
2,166.50
0.0%
Platinum
864.50
0.0%
Brent Crude
85.14
-2.4%
Top 40
57,390
+0.8%
All Share
63,726
+0.7%
Resource 10
60,230
+0.7%
Industrial 25
77,400
+0.8%
Financial 15
13,796
+0.7%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE