Is Britain avoiding justice for possible assets who ‘joined’ ISIS in Syria?

In this March 30, 2019, file photo, Alexanda Amon Kotey, left, and El Shafee Elsheikh, who were allegedly among four British jihadis who made up a brutal Islamic State cell dubbed “The Beatles,” speak during an interview with The Associated Press at a security center in Kobani, Syria, Friday, March 30, 2018. (Hussein Malla/AP)

“WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has notified the British government that it will not pursue the death penalty against two Islamic State militants suspected in the beheadings of Western hostages, removing a hurdle in the potential prosecution of the men in the United States. ” ~ Military Times

A recent report in Military Times details the case of two British extremists who were members of a brutal ISIS cell nicknamed “The Beatles”  believed to have been involved in various crimes including kidnapping, executions and murder of against British and American citizens in Syria. They are possibly linked to the murder of British “aid-worker”, Alan Henning. 

“I know that the United Kingdom shares our determination that there should be a full investigation and a criminal prosecution of Kotey and Elsheikh,” Attorney General William Barr wrote to British Home Secretary Priti Patel in a letter released by the Justice Department on Wednesday.  ~ Military Times

Britain had previously stonewalled US federal prosecutors under the pretext that if the two men were to be tried in the US, the UK could not condone a potential death penalty which has been abolished under UK law.

Barr has informed the British authorities that any further delay in the provision of evidence will push the Americans to transfer the prisoners to the Iraqi criminal justice system for prosecution. 

The two men were reportedly captured by the US-sponsored Kurdish forces two years ago and were transferred to US custody in October 2019 when Turkish militia invaded the Syrian north-east border regions.

The British government has until October 15th 2020  “to resolve any legal objections it may have and to provide U.S. authorities with the evidence they seek.”. After that, the men will be handed over to Iraqi authorities with assurances from the US that they would not share British evidence with any country that may impose the death penalty. 

” The decision is a significant development in years of wrangling over Kotey and Elsheikh. The U.S. and British governments have an agreement to share documents, records and other evidence in criminal investigations. In 2015, the Justice Department asked for evidence that Britain had gathered on the “Beatles,” saying it was doing its own investigation into Americans who were murdered in Syria. ” ~ Military Times

The British leader of the “Beatles” cell, Mohammed Emwazi aka Jihadi John, was eliminated in a drone strike in 2015. Emwazi was responsible for the beheading of US journalist, James Foley in 2014. 

The British government prevarication and reluctance to bring the two ISIS terrorists home for trial must be viewed with some skepticism. I spoke with Peter Ford, former UK Ambassador to Syria and Middle East expert.  He had the following to say:

” You have set me thinking. 

What may be interesting here is that with the transfer of these men to American jurisdiction it is likely that we shall never know whether these ISIS propaganda stars had ever been ‘assets’ of British security agencies. Lest this seem far-fetched let us recall that the encouragement the British authorities gave to Libyan terrorists based in UK has been well documented.

 It has also been reported that British intelligence not only knew but even tried to recruit the ringleader of the ‘ISIS Beatles,’ Emwazi (aka ‘Jihadi John’). Were they successful, perhaps? 

 Compared with the effort which must have gone into killing Emwazi by drone strike – obviating the possibility of a trial in Britain liable to bring out the answer to this question – the efforts made by the British government to bring the two British subjects Kotey and ElSheikh, conveniently (or inconveniently?) fallen into the hands of Kurdish militia, back to face British justice, appear to have been tepid. 

Now, given that the accused will no doubt disappear indefinitely into the maw of the opaque American injustice system, the British authorities can perhaps heave a sigh of relief that no spotlight will be shone upon the role of British unintelligence in funnelling any extremists, no matter how dangerous, into Syria as long as it seemed that they were against Assad.”

The case against Moazzam Begg 

Ford’s speculation is not so far-fetched when remembering the curious trial of suspected British asset in Syria, Moazzam Begg. 

“Moazzam Begg’s trial for terrorism offences collapsed spectacularly last year when MI5 admitted they had given him the “green light” for his training of fighters in Syria. The Guardian noted that MI5 had “extensive contacts with him before and after his trips to Syria” during which “he discussed his travel plans and explained he was assisting opposition fighters in their war against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.”

MI5 then assured Begg that “no attempt would be made to hinder him if he wanted to return toSyria.” According to Begg, around half a dozen other trials have collapsed since then, and for the same reason – that the fighters had left with the full approval of the security services. That the intelligence services should be playing the role of facilitating British Muslims to fight in Syria is, of course, no surprise, given that it was government policy to support the Syrian insurgency from the very beginning, providing it with diplomatic support, finance, training and military equipment, and downplaying the brutality and sectarianism of the fighters.” ~ Dan Glazebrook for RT.

Read more on this case here.  

It is also interesting to note the recent appointment of Richard Moore as head of UK intelligence services. Moore was also formerly British Ambassador in Ankara, Turkey from 2014 – 2017. 

During his time in Turkey, Moore used his Twitter account to dismiss an allegation in  Turkish media suggesting that an ISIS bombing was the work of a British agent. 

Certainly it is well within the realms of possibility that the UK intelligence services have military assets on the ground in Syria and “mingling” with the brutal extremist forces whether it is ISIS or any of the other regularly rebranded militia tasked with the toppling of the Syrian government. The recent airlifting of an injured SAS operative from southern Syria is also indicative of the clandestine war that the UK is waging against the sovereign nation that has defended itself against such operations for the last ten years. 

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