Two members of a notorious British group of Islamic State (IS) militants dubbed "the Beatles" have been unofficially identified as Londoners who were close friends.
The group, whose leader Mohammed Emwazi, aka "Jihadi John," gained notoriety for appearing in videos showing the murders of Western hostages, are said by former hostages of Islamic State to have been assigned to guard foreign prisoners. Western hostages nicknamed the three men "the Beatles" due to their English accents.
On Sunday, a Washington Post and BuzzFeed investigation named a member of the group known as "Jihadi Ringo" as 32-year-old Londoner Alexanda Kotey, while an ITV News investigation also named Kotey as well as identifying a third member of the group as Aine Davis, a drug dealer who converted to Islam and left the UK in 2013.
The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News said Kotey was a soccer fan who had grown up in west London and converted to Islam in his early 20s, after meeting a Muslim woman with whom he had two children. He, Emwazi and Davis were good friends who attended the same mosque, said various reports, where they were marginalized because of their extreme views.
He has a Greek Cypriot mother and Ghanaian father, and left Britain in 2009 to travel to Gaza as part of an aid convoy led by London mayoral candidate George Galloway, the report said.
The Post said a US intelligence official had confirmed that Kotey had travelled to Syria. The UK government would not comment on whether Kotey and Davis were part of Emwazi's gang.
Members of Kotey's family said in a statement they were "deeply distressed" at the claims and confirmed they had not seen him "for a number of years."
ITV News said Davis, from Hammersmith, west London, travelled to Syria in 2013 to become an IS guard. Davis has already been widely reported on due to the 2014 trial of his wife Amal El-Wahabi, who was jailed for funding terrorism after she was found to have tried to trick a friend into taking £15,000 ($21,000) to Syria to give to him.
Davis, a drug dealer who converted to Islam and reportedly became radicalized in jail, was detained by police in Turkey last year suspected of planning terrorist attacks in Istanbul similar to those that took place in November in Paris.
The group led by Emwazi is believed to have been responsible for the beheadings of at least 25 Syrian, Japanese, British, and American hostages, before Emwazi was reportedly killed in a US drone strike last year. The British jihadis were "harsher in their violence," than other captors, one former hostage, French journalist Didier Francois, has said.
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