London, United Kingdom—Despite urging from the United States, the British government is reluctant to repatriate two of its citizens who were high-profile members of the Islamic State (ISIS).
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were part of a four-man team responsible with high-profile executions. Nicknamed as “The Beatles” because of their British accents, the group is accused of beheading 27 people, to include U.S. citizens James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Peter Kassig. The team’s two other members were Mohammed Emwazi (aka ‘Jihadi John’) and Aine Davis. Emwazi was killed in a coalition airstrike and Davis is imprisoned in Turkey. Reportedly, the Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS) have been given a kill-list containing around 200 terrorists with British citizenship.
Described as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” by the State Department, the two Britons were also responsible for the torture of numerous Western hostages.
Major General Patrick Roberson, commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said that it would be highly desirable if countries accepted their citizens who were captured fighting for ISIS.
The top U.S. SOF commander in the region said that the U.S. and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are “working very hard to make sure that the countries of origin get these foreign terrorist fighters back into their custody.”
A British government spokesperson, however, was somewhat vague and avoided any commitments. He said, “we have said repeatedly that the Government will do whatever it takes to keep families, communities and our country safe and that the security of the UK will always come first. Those fighting for Daesh, whatever their nationality, who are captured in armed conflict must be properly brought to justice for their actions.”
Like many other European countries, Britain is uncomfortable with its renegade citizens.
The British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, is also reluctant to allow the terrorists back in the U.K. In a previous occasion, he had said, “Do I want them back in the United Kingdom? No, I don’t.”
U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis, on the other hand, stressed the responsibility that each country has for its citizens, terrorists or not.
“I think the SDF and us would certainly like them to be repatriated to where they came from,” added Major General Roberson.
But there lies the rub: it appears that the men have lost their British citizenship. They are, thus, men without a country — for ISIS’ precious Caliphate is no more than a fairy tale. Since the U.K. legal system believes that there isn’t enough evidence for a trial and the British government is unwilling to accept them, there is a high possibility for a federal trial in the U.S. In such an event, the two terrorists might very well receive the death penalty.