Alleged IS 'Beatles' murderers attack 'illegal' stripping of British citizenship

Two Britons accused of being members of Islamic State have complained they cannot get a fair trial because the UK Government stripped them of their citizenship.

Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, who are said to have been members of the brutal "Beatles" quartet of IS executioners in Syria and Iraq, also described the execution of hostages as "regrettable".

The pair spoke to the Associated Press from a cell in northern Syria, where they have been languishing since they were detained by Kurdish militia in January.

Their capture sparked a row over whether they should be returned to the UK for trial or tried where their alleged crimes were committed.

Elsheikh told AP the "illegal" revocation of the pair's citizenship exposes them to "rendition and torture".

He added: "Being taken to any foreign land and treated in anyway and having nobody to vouch for you.

"When you have these two guys who don't even have any citizenship... if we just disappear one day, where is my mum going to go and say where is my son."

He added they could also have "no fair trial, when I am 'the Beatle' in the media".

Along with Mohammed Emwazi - the killer nicknamed Jihadi John - and Aine Davis, Kotey and Elsheikh - a former child refugee - are thought to have been part of a group named after the '60s band because of their English accents.

The four Londoners were linked to a string of hostage murders in Iraq and Syria during the bloody Islamist uprising and gained global notoriety.

Emwazi, who was killed in a US airstrike in 2015, appeared in a number of videos in which captives including British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning were beheaded.

Alan Henning
Alan Henning

Davis was convicted of being a member of a terrorist organisation and jailed for seven-and-a-half years at a court in Silivri, Turkey, in May 2017

Kotey told the Associated Press that many people in IS would have opposed the executions "on the grounds that there is probably more benefit in them being political prisoners."

He told the agency: "As for my position, I didn't see any benefit. It was something that was regrettable."

Last month Home Secretary Amber Rudd has left the door open to putting the British men on trial in a UK court.

The Home Secretary said she was "absolutely convinced and absolutely committed" to the idea of them "facing justice".

Her comments came after Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the pair should not return to the UK, because they had "turned their back on British ideas, British values".

His comments threatened to spark a diplomatic row with the United States, which wants countries to take responsibility for their citizens arrested in the fight against IS.

It was understood the pair had been stripped of their British citizenship, although officials at the Home Office refused to comment on individual cases at the time.