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U.K. charges alleged ISIS ‘Beatles’ member with terrorism offenses

Aine Davis, in a photo released in 2014. (Metropolitan Police/PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Live News)

An earlier version of this article misstated the number of hostages beheaded by an ISIS cell. This article has been corrected.

LONDON — Aine Davis, an alleged member of a notorious Islamic State group that tortured, starved and killed hostages in Syria, has been charged with terrorism offenses after he landed in England following his deportation by Turkish authorities.

Davis, 38, was arrested by British police at Luton Airport on Wednesday and taken to nearby London. He spent several years in a Turkish prison after being arrested in 2015 and convicted in 2017 of being a member of a terrorist organization. Davis has denied the charges.

London’s Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement that Davis was charged with offenses under the Terrorism Act. He appeared in Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday and will be held in custody.

The charges relate to alleged terrorism offenses from 2014 and possession of a firearm for a purpose connected with terrorism, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Davis has denied being part of an Islamic State quartet known as the “Beatles” because of their British accents.

The group beheaded hostages including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Footage of the gruesome killings was recorded and shared online.

Two members of the group, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, are imprisoned in the United States, while the group’s leader, Mohammed Emwazi, who was known globally as “Jihadi John,” was killed in a U.S.-British drone strike in Syria in 2015.

Kotey pleaded guilty in September in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to playing a role in the kidnappings and deaths of Foley, Sotloff and aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. He was given a life sentence.

Elsheikh became the only member of the group to be convicted by a U.S. jury, earlier this year. He was found guilty of conspiring to murder Foley, Sotloff, Kassig and Mueller — and faces a mandatory life sentence.

At Elsheikh’s trial, an FBI agent said his investigation found that there were only three hostage-taking “Beatles,” not four, and former hostages did not testify about a fourth. The only reference to Davis was made by a defense attorney. As recently as late 2020, authorities pointed to Davis as a member of the group.

Rachel Weiner in Washington contributed to this report.