Scotland Yard revealed that hostages released by British police were able give key information to British police identifying an IS kidnap group called “The Beatles”, which held and tortured them.
Two officers have revealed key breakthroughs that enabled them to identify the terrorists and bring them to trial in the US .
It contained vital information from hostages who were freed, which police used to help them identify the men marching with a group that was linked to radical group al-Muhajiroun.
Because of their British accents, the hostages nicknamed them “The Beatles”.
Mohammed Emwazi also known as Jihadi John was first seen in an IS 2014 video that showed a British-accented masked man shooting a prisoner.
Police were able locate tapes of Emwazi’s 2012 police interviews and to compare them with Emwazi’s voice during execution.
Expert forensic voice analyst Emwazi concluded that there was a strong possibility that the video’s subject was Emwazi.
How officers constructed their case
The officers then began to reduce the number of potential members of their group. They eventually identified Alexanda Koley and El Shafee Elsheikh both from west London.
Commander Richard Smith, Head of Scotland Yard’s Counter-Terrorism Command said that police used a “trail made of very small breadcrumbs” to build the case and it was “like putting very small pieces together a puzzle”.
One piece of information was obtained from hostages, which was “fairly non-remarkable” for the hostage but proved to be very important to police.
It was a recollection from a conversation in which one of the captors mentioned that the man had been taken into custody at a march of the English Defence League (EDL), in London.
The investigation team was able, based on this conversation, to identify an EDL march that occurred in the capital on September 11, 2011.
It was a counter-demonstration against a march by Muslims Against Crusades to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11, which began at the US embassy in Grosvenor Square.
There were several flashpoints in central London. At 6pm police were called to Tyburn pub in Marble Arch. A stabbing had occurred and several men were arrested for their involvement.
Two of these individuals were identified by records as Kotey or Elsheikh.
“Both men were eventually released without being charged for the offence. But the information was valuable in helping us to pinpoint them as the hostages had described,” stated Commander Smith.
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Photos of decapitated heads and guns
Counter-terrorism command used the opportunity to examine data from Elsheikh and Kotey’s phones. They were seized at time of arrest and showed messages between them.
Also, they found Elsheikh’s number on Emwazi’s phone. This had been downloaded by Emwazi when he was being questioned about the bike thefts.
After officers reexamined evidence from a separate case, another crucial piece of evidence linked Elsheikh to terrorist activity in Syria was found.
Operation Trident, the Metropolitan Police anti gangs unit, arrested Elsheikh’s brother Khalid in 2014. A handgun was also found at his home.
The phone was taken from him and contained disturbing images. They contacted the counter-terrorism command who conducted a thorough examination.
Police found a number Telegram messages between Elsheikh’s brother and Elsheikh, which showed Elsheikh was in Syria.
One picture showed Elsheikh wearing combat clothes and holding a gun. One showed Elsheikh in combat clothing and holding a firearm. Another featured a graphic image of heads decapitated with commentary by Elsheikh.
After Elsheikh and Kotey were detained in Syria, officers re-analyzed the data using digital interrogation software. The software had been improved over the years and additional material was discovered.
The voicemail contained a message from Elsheikh that was identified as a voicemail. It was then sent to his brother.
Officers located an interview tape from police with Elsheikh in 2009, and voice experts were then able to analyze the recordings. They concluded that Elsheikh was the one on the voice note.
British police were granted authorisation by the attorney general to file 139 charges against Elsheikh and Kotey last year. However, they were already in the US.
After being captured by the Western-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, they were stripped of their British citizenship and taken to the United States for trial.
Elsheikh (33), will be sentenced on Friday. Kotey, 38 was sentenced to life in Virginia for kidnapping, conspiracy, murder, and material support of terrorism in April.
After being deported by Turkish authorities to England last week, a man believed to be the fourth member the Beatles terror cell was arrested with terrorist offences.
Aine Junior Davis was also arrested after arriving at Luton airport from Turkey on 10 August.