WASHINGTON (AP) — The American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces captured two notorious British members of an Islamic State insurgent cell commonly dubbed "The Beatles" and known for beheading hostages, a U.S. military official said Thursday.
The official said that El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey were captured in early January in eastern Syria. The two men are among four members 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. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details of the Syrian capture.
The State Department has imposed sanctions on both men. They are believed to be linked to the British terrorist known as Jihadi John, the masked IS militant who appeared in several videos depicting the graphic beheadings of Western hostages.
Their capture was first reported by the New York Times.
According to the U.S., Elsheikh traveled to Syria in 2012 and first joined al-Qaida's branch there, and then later joined IS. The State Department, in imposing sanctions on Kotey last year, said he likely engaged in executions and torture, including electronic shock and waterboarding, and recruited several British nationals to IS.