Published: Thu, October 10, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

United States takes custody of 2 high-profile IS militants

United States takes custody of 2 high-profile IS militants

The men, believed to be Britons El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, were removed as Turkey launched an assault on the Syrian Kurdish forces - with which the USA partnered to combat Islamic State - sparking fears that the offensive could lead to captured fighters they held escaping and reconstituting the group.

US officials said Wednesday that two British militants believed to be part of an IS group that beheaded hostages and was known as "The Beatles" have been moved out of a detention center in Syria and are in American custody.

The intensive shelling paved the way for Turkish troops to start crossing the Syrian border on Wednesday evening.

US President Donald Trump has once again found himself at the epicentre of a Twitter troll-fest as he has confirmed on the micro-blogging platform that two Daesh* fighters, known as the Beatles, have been taken out of Syria to a more secure location.

Turkey is attacking the US -backed Syrian Defense Forces, a Kurdish force that battled the Islamic State group alongside American troops and now is responsible for guarding thousands of detained militants.

Their cell became notorious for capturing, torturing, and murdering Western hostages, including American journalists and aid workers, and was seemingly led by the infamous "Jihad John" - real name Mohammed Emwazi. The group beheaded seven American, British and Japanese journalists and aid workers and a group of Syrian soldiers, boasting of the butchery in videos released to the world.

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"They have been moved out of Syria and are in a secure location", the official said, without identifying where.

The number of Britons held in Isis jails is estimated by security sources to be around 30, and the United Kingdom has largely pursued a policy of ignoring them, arguing that they travelled to Syria at their own risk, a country where there has been no consular support since the start of the civil war in 2011.

Other officials said they and other high-value detainees were being placed in USA military custody, but could not say where they were being taken.

The two British men were captured in January previous year in eastern Syria by the Kurdish forces amid the collapse of IS. Their detention set off a debate in the USA and Europe over how to prosecute their citizens who joined IS.

If this is true, and the detained men were transferred over global borders, it could prove more complicated for the prosecute. Attacks had taken place in the immediate vicinity, they said. But ISIS was defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in March the SDF captured the last sliver of land that was held by the fighters in Syria. But global leaders have been largely reluctant and have been slow to take any back.

US President Donald Trump called the pair the "worst of the worst" in a Tweet, where he also proclaimed the US removed them due to security concerns. "They don't want those people out any more than we do", he said.

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