Cooperation over death penalty threat suspended

The Home Office has suspended cooperation with American authorities over the case of two British-raised jihadis facing the possibility of execution in the US.

Known as two of the ISIS Beatles, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey are suspected of involvement in multiple murders or abductions of hostages as part of the terrorist cell group. This includes the abduction of the British aid workers Alan Henning and David Haines and the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

Pending the outcome of a judicial review, the Home Office could be forced to extend the suspension, further challenging Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s controversial decision not to oppose the use of the death penalty if two alleged ISIS members were extradited to the US. It has been widely seen as undermining the UK’s opposition to the death penalty.

A Home Office spokesperson is reported as saying: “Yesterday we received a request from the legal representative of the family of one of the suspects to pause the MLA [mutual legal assistance] response. We have agreed to a short-term pause. The government remains committed to bringing these people to justice and we are confident we have acted in full accordance of the law and within the government’s longstanding MLA policy.”

The decision is the result of an emergency legal challenge from the mother of El Shafee Elsheikh.

The other two members of the ‘Beatles’ group are Mohammed Emwazi, understood to have been killed in a US airstrike in 2015, and Aine Davis, convicted of being a member of a terrorist organisation and jailed for seven and a half years by a court in Silivri, Turkey, in May 2017.

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