Alexanda Amon Kotey
13 December 1983
|Nationality||Stateless (formerly British)|
|Known for||alleged to have played a role in Daesh atrocities|
Alexanda Amon Kotey (born 13 December 1983) is a former British citizen who was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces, who said he was fleeing from the collapse of Daesh, the short-lived “Islamic State”. He has been designated a terrorist by the United States and identified in the press as one of the four Jihadi Beatles who took part in Daesh atrocities. Kotey has denied being a member of “the Beatles” but admits joining the Daesh terrorist group.
Born in Britain to a Ghanaian father and Greek Cypriot mother, Kotey spent his youth in Shepherd’s Bush. The Daily Telegraph reports he is a supporter of Queens Park Rangers F.C. and dreamed of joining the team when he grew up. His Syrian captors say Kotey worked as a drug dealer in London prior to his radicalisation. He is believed to have converted to Islam in his early twenties and left two young children in Britain.
Time in Daesh
In 2014 and 2015 Daesh held dozens of European and North American captives, and the brutal conditions of their detention were widely reported. Four English-speaking Daesh fighters played a central role in the brutality. Their identities were initially either not known. or security officials did not make their identities known to the public, so the press dubbed the four as the Jihadi Beatles, with the most well-known being known as Jihadi John. Later Kotey was reported to have been one of the other three Beatles.
On 10 January 2017, the United States Department of State formally designated Kotey as a terrorist under the authority of Executive Order 13224. This designation prohibited American citizens, financial institutions, and other American corporations, from having any financial dealings with him.
The US claims that Kotey was involved in beheadings and known for administering “exceptionally cruel torture methods”, including “electronic shocks”. The 34-year-old is also accused of acting as an Isis recruiter and being responsible for drawing several other British extremists to join Isis. Kotey has denied being a member of “the Beatles”, but admits joining the Daesh terrorist group.
Daesh controlled areas of Syria and Iraq underwent a steady erosion in 2015, 2016 and 2017, with their remaining enclaves collapsing in late 2017 and early 2018. Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, a friend from London, who was also reported to have been one of the Jihadi Beatles, were captured trying to flee the region, on 24 January 2018.
Prosecution venue and possible outcome
Detention in Guantanamo might mean indefinite detention without charge; if transferred to US custody for a civilian trial and convicted, they would likely be detained at the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. The Independent described how bleak conditions would be at the Florence Supermax, confinement to a featureless cell, for 23 hours a day, practically no human contact, exercise periods in a small featureless courtyard, near their cell. Another option under consideration is trial at the International Court in the Hague. Tobias Ellwood of the UK Ministry of Defence had argued that transfer to Guantanamo was inappropriate.
In March 2018 Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh complained that their British citizenship had “illegally” been withdrawn (judges have previously found the UK in breach of international law when stripping citizenship from terror suspects who are not dual nationals), leaving them stateless and at risk of “rendition and torture”.
While the UK will not normally extradite suspects if they might be subject to the death penalty, in July 2018 it was reported that British Home Secretary Sajid Javid had written to the US attorney general about the case, saying “I am of the view that there are strong reasons for not requiring a death penalty assurance in this specific case, so no such assurances will be sought.” Javid said that the decision was for this specific case, not a change to the government’s support of the global abolition of the death penalty. The BBC security correspondent said that the UK opposed the controversial military prison in Guantanamo Bay: if the two are sent there, the UK will not share intelligence for the trial; but if they go to a civil trial, the UK will.
Rob Merrick (2018-02-11). “Britain ‘may not challenge’ Donald Trump if he decides to send jihadi ‘Beatles’ to Guantanamo, Justice Secretary says: Britain has yet to make any representations to Washington because it must first ‘consider our options, David Gauke says”. The Independent. Retrieved 2018-02-11.
But he refused to say the Government would intervene if the US President opted to send the pair to the notorious detention centre in Cuba for suspected terrorists.
Rohit Kachroo (2018-02-09). “Alexanda Kotey image: ITV News obtains exclusive first photo of IS ‘Beatle’ in detention”. ITV. Retrieved 2018-02-11.
The bearded Kotey is seen in a tatty grey t-shirt after being captured in Syria in January, trying to smuggle himself into Turkey.
Lolita C. Baldur (2018-02-11). “US wants foreign fighters in Syria to face justice at home”. National Post. Rome. Retrieved 2018-02-11.
U.S. officials have interrogated the men, who were part of the IS cell that captured, tortured and beheaded more than two dozen hostages, including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and American aid worker Peter Kassig.
- “Another Islamic State jailer who held Western hostages identified as Londoner”. Washington Post. 7 February 2008.
- “ISIS Accomplice Of “Jihadi John” Named As “Quiet And Humble” Londoner”. BuzzFeed News. 8 February 2008.
- Dearden, Lizzie (31 March 2018). “Isis ‘Beatles’ militants captured in Syria accuse government of breaking law by removing British citizenship”. The Independent.
Martin Evans, Josie Ensor, Steve Bird, Patrick Sawer, (2018-02-09). “Revealed: How two London schoolboys became the world’s most wanted murderers”. The Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 2018-02-11.
Growing up in west London in the 1990s, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh had many things in common, not least their passion for Queens Park Rangers – the local football team.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
“State Department Terrorist Designation of Alexanda Amon Kotey”. US Department of State. 2017-01-10. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
The Department of State has designated Alexanda Amon Kotey as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which imposes sanctions on foreign persons and groups determined to have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.
Ian Cobain, Vikram Dodd (2018-02-09). “Put ‘Beatles’ Isis fighters on trial, victims’ families say: Families express relief and call for Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh to be put on trial”. The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-11.
Relatives of the victims of an Islamic State torture and murder cell known as “the Beatles” have expressed relief that the two remaining members have been captured and said they wanted to see them stand trial.
- “Islamic State ‘Beatles’ duo: UK ‘will not block death penalty‘“. BBC News. 23 July 2018.