Aine Davis is a British member of ISIS who previously belonged to the four-member ISIS cell known as “The Beatles.” Led by deceased ISIS executioner Mohammed Emwazi, a.k.a. Jihadi John, The Beatles also included British citizens Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh. The four were responsible for holding captive and beheading 27 hostages, including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and American aid worker Peter Kassig.“State Department Terrorist Designation of Alexanda Amon Kotey,” U.S. Department of State, January 10, 2017, https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/01/266762.htm; Tom Whitehead and Harry Yorke, “Jihadi John's fourth Beatle unmasked as refugee given shelter in UK,” Telegraph (London), May 23, 2016, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/23/jihadi-johns-fourth-beatle-unmasked-as-refugee-given-shelter-in/; “State Department Terrorist Designations of El Shafee Elsheikh, Anjem Choudary, Sami Bouras, Shane Dominic Crawford, and Mark John Taylor,” U.S. Department of State, March 30, 2017, https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/03/269306.htm. Davis is a convicted criminal, former gang member, drug dealer, and Muslim convert who left the United Kingdom in July 2013 and subsequently joined ISIS.“Who are Britain’s jihadists?,” BBC News, September 8, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-32026985; Robert Mendick, “British jihadist at heart of terrorist network in Iraq and Syria,” Telegraph (London), August 16, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/11038871/British-jihadist-at-the-heart-of-terrorist-network-terror-in-Syria-and-Iraq.html; Dominic Casciani, “Woman jailed for funding Syria jihad,” BBC News, November 13, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-30041625. Davis is scheduled for trial in London in February 2023.“Alleged Daesh ‘Beatle’ to go on trial in UK,” Arab News, February 6, 2023, https://www.arabnews.com/node/2245741/world.
Davis grew up in the west London borough of Hammersmith and spent time in prison for illegal gun possession. He reportedly converted to a “rather radical form of Islam” in prison, according to BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner.“‘Jihadi John’: Suspected accomplice arrested in Turkey,” BBC News, November 13, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34813534. In the early 2000s, Kotey, Davis, and Emwazi all reportedly attended the Al-Manaar mosque in Landbroke Grove, London.Jane Bradley, Tom Warren, and Richard Holmes, “ISIS Accomplice of ‘Jihadi John’ Named As ‘Quiet And Humble’ Londoner,” BuzzFeed News, February 8, 2016, https://www.buzzfeed.com/janebradley/unmasked-the-second-member-of-isiss-beatles-execution-cell?utm_term=.hblMB4XJj#.bx3DJ2X7r. The three were reportedly physically removed from the mosque because of their radical behavior.James Fielding, Sarah White, and Rod Ardehali, “‘The fact he's still alive will be a big relief’: Mother of ISIS Beatle suicide squad member is COMFORTED by his capture in Syria as his father admits: ‘We don't know what will happen to our son,’” Daily Mail (London), February 9, 2018, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5372765/Mother-ISIS-Beatle-COMFORTED-capture.html#ixzz56vm9EInH.
Davis is married to Amal el-Wahabi from northwest London. El-Wahabi tried to smuggle €20,000 ($22,600) to her husband via Turkey.“Who are Britain’s jihadists?” BBC News, September 8, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-32026985. El-Wahabi was convicted of funding terrorism in August 2014 and jailed for two years and four months from November 2014.Dominic Casciani, “Woman jailed for funding Syria jihad,” BBC News, November 13, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-30041625. El-Wahabi was the first person to be convicted in the United Kingdom of funding jihadists in Syria.Colin Freeman, “British associate of Jihadi John held in Turkey over plot to carry out copycat Paris attacks,” Telegraph (London), November 15, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11997530/British-associate-of-Jihadi-John-held-in-Turkey-over-plot-to-carry-out-copycat-Paris-attacks.html. At the trial, el-Wahabi said Davis was sent to Gambia at the age of 5 to live with his grandmother, returning to the United Kingdom twice at 8 and then as a teenager. In 2004, Davis spent two years at a young offenders’ institute for illegal possession of a firearm while in a taxi. Between 2002 and 2010, Davis was convicted six separate times for possession of cannabis. When he left the United Kingdom in July 2013, Davis abandoned four children by two different mothers.Robert Mendick, “British jihadist at heart of terrorist network in Iraq and Syria,” Telegraph (London), August 16, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/11038871/British-jihadist-at-the-heart-of-terrorist-network-terror-in-Syria-and-Iraq.html.
In ISIS, Davis joined with Emwazi, Kotey, and Elsheikh to form the cell labeled The Beatles by hostages because of their British accents.Adam Goldman and Souad Mekhennet, “‘That is not the son I raised’: How a British citizen became one of the most notorious members of ISIS,” Washington Post, May 23, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/that-is-not-the-son-i-raised-how-a-british-citizen-became-one-of-the-most-notorious-members-of-isis/2016/05/23/6d66276c-1cfd-11e6-b6e0-c53b7ef63b45_story.html?utm_term=.3125a25e6b63. According to freed ISIS hostages, The Beatles were among the more brutal of ISIS’s guards. Didier Francois—a French journalist held prisoner by The Beatles for 10 months—told CNN that The Beatles would regularly stage fake executions after telling captives they were to be beheaded.Mick Krever, “ISIS captors cared little about religion, says former hostage,” CNN, February 4, 2015, http://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/03/intl_world/amanpour-didier-francois/index.html?sr=fb020315isisquran4pVODtopVideo.
Davis was among a group of suspects arrested in Turkey in November 2015 on suspicion of planning a terror attack in the country to coincide with the ISIS attack that month in Paris.Colin Freeman, “British associate of Jihadi John held in Turkey over plot to carry out copycat Paris attacks,” Telegraph (London), November 15, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11997530/British-associate-of-Jihadi-John-held-in-Turkey-over-plot-to-carry-out-copycat-Paris-attacks.html. A court in Silivri, Turkey, found Davis guilty of belonging to a terrorist organization. The court sentenced Davis to seven-and-a-half years in prison. Davis insisted on his innocence after his sentencing.Martin Chulov and Jamie Grierson, “British jihadi Aine Davis convicted in Turkey on terror charges,” Guardian (London), May 9, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/09/british-jihadist-aine-davis-convicted-in-turkey-on-terror-charges. Emwazi was killed in a November 2015 U.S. airstrike in Syria.Dana Ford and Steve Almasy, “ISIS confirms death of ‘Jihadi John,’” CNN, January 20, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/19/middleeast/jihadi-john-dead/. Syrian Kurdish forces captured Kotey and Elsheikh in Syria in February 2018.Mark Hosenball and Idrees Ali, “Syrian Kurds capture two British Islamic State militants: U.S. officials,” Reuters, February 8, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-britain/syrian-kurds-capture-two-british-islamic-state-militants-u-s-officials-idUSKBN1FS34Q.
On September 22, 2020, the British government provided the United States with evidence against Elsheikh and Kotey, clearing the way for their trial. The United Kingdom originally prevented the transfer of evidence due to a legal fight over the use of the death penalty. However, the U.S. government made it clear that if Kotey and Elsheikh were found guilty, they would not be executed. It is unreported if Davis will be extradited to the United States from Turkey if U.S. legal proceedings commence.“UK sends US evidence on Islamic State 'Beatles',” BBC News, September 23, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-54255869; Charlie Savage, “British Give U.S. Evidence Against ISIS ‘Beatles,’ Clearing Way for Trial,” New York Times, September 22, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/22/us/politics/isis-beatles.html. Kotey and Elsheikh were transferred to the United States for trial in October 2020.Rachel Weiner and Ellen Nakashima, “Two ISIS militants charged in deaths of James Foley and other American hostages in Syria,” Washington Post, October 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/isis-hostages-beheadings-miltants-charged/2020/10/07/69762ef2-089b-11eb-859b-f9c27abe638d_story.html. In September 2021, Kotey pleaded guilty to eight charges related to the kidnapping and murder of hostages.Rachel Weiner and Tom Jackman, “ISIS militant admits involvement in torture, killings of American hostages,” Washington Post, September 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/islamic-state-hostage-plea/2021/09/02/669d2b2c-0b56-11ec-9781-07796ffb56fe_story.html. On April 14, 2022, Elsheikh was convicted on eight charges, including four counts of hostage-taking resulting in death, murder conspiracy and conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization.“El Shafee Elsheikh: IS 'Beatle' found guilty of hostage-taking and conspiring to murder journalists and aid workers,” Sky News, April 14, 2022, https://news.sky.com/story/el-shafee-elsheikh-is-beatle-found-guilty-of-hostage-taking-and-conspiring-to-murder-journalists-and-aid-workers-12589377. On April 29, 2022, Kotey was sentenced to life in prison.“Alexanda Kotey: IS ‘Beatle’ sentenced to life in US for murders in Syria,” BBC News, April 29, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-61274332. Elsheikh was sentenced to life in prison on August 19, 2022.Kanishka Singh, “Islamic State militant gets life in U.S. prison over killing of American hostages,” Reuters, August 19, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/legal/islamic-state-cell-member-faces-us-sentencing-beheadings-2022-08-19/.
Davis carried out the majority of his seven-and-a-half-year sentence at Ankara’s Sincan prison. Ragip Soylu and Simon Hooper, “EXCLUSIVE: Turkey set to deport 'Islamic State Beatle' to UK,” Middle East Eye, June 30, 2022, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/islamic-state-beatle-turkey-set-deport-uk. On August 10, 2022, authorities flew him to Luton, England, where he was immediately arrested at the airport by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command and transferred to London.Daniel Sandford and Doug Faulkner, “Aine Davis: Alleged fourth IS ‘Beatle’ arrested in UK on terror charges,” BBC News, August 10, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-62495025. On February 6, 2023, Judge Mark Lucraft announced Davis’s trial would begin February 27 at London’s Old Bailey court.“Alleged Daesh ‘Beatle’ to go on trial in UK,” Arab News, February 6, 2023, https://www.arabnews.com/node/2245741/world.
- Extremist entity
- Type(s) of Organization:
- Insurgent, territory-controlling, religious, terrorist, violent
- Ideologies and Affiliations:
- Islamist, jihadist, pan-Islamist, Salafist, takfiri
- Foreign fighter
ISIS is a violent jihadist group based in Iraq and Syria. The group has declared wilayas (provinces) in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the North Caucasus. ISIS has also waged attacks in Turkey, Lebanon, France, Belgium, Iraq, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Tunisia, and Kuwait.