British counter-terror officers are set to share crucial evidence with US prosecutors that could put the UK’s most notorious living terrorists behind bars for life.
Self-confessed Islamic State thugs Alexanda Kotey and El-Shafee el-Sheikh are facing charges that could land them life sentences in America’s “hell on earth” supermax prison in Colorado, dubbed the Alcatraz of the Rockies.
Both are allegedly linked to the notorious IS execution squad The Beatles, with information gleaned from British agents placed inside IS.
Sources close to US Attorney General William Barr say his announcement that the pair would not face the death penalty came after US prosecutors were promised crucial UK files on them.
British intelligence agency MI5 and police have key information on the actions of both while they were in Syria. American prosecutors believe this will help them land a guilty verdict.
The Daily Mirror has learned both the ex-Londoners, named as wanted terrorists three years ago by the US State Department, are due to be charged with terror offences, ranging from execution, waterboarding, mock execution, kidnapping and other violent crimes – as well supporting a terrorism network.
FBI teams in New York and Washington are preparing masses of evidence for a high-profile prosecution.
A senior Whitehall source told the Daily Mirror yesterday: “Evidence on both men which will be provided by UK counter-terror police will be absolutely crucial to an American case.
“[It] is ready to go as soon as it legally can be shared with the FBI and the prosecution team.”
MI5 has provided much of the evidence against Kotey and el-Sheikh. The former IS fighters implicated themselves in the mistreatment of several high profile hostages.
These include Americans Kayla Mueller and James Foley, who was beheaded by “Beatle” Jihadi John.
In interviews, the two men admitted their involvement in the captivity of Kayla, an aid worker who was tortured and sexually abused before her death in 2015, aged 26.
Kotey said: “She was in a room by herself no one would go in.”
El-Sheikh went into more detail, saying, “I took an email from her myself,” meaning he got an email address IS could use to demand ransom from the family. “She was in a large room, alone … and very scared.” This significantly links the pair to her high-profile case.
It is thought that other evidence will be from people in the UK, including jailed terrorists and a video of the pair bragging about their involvement.
British intelligence had penetrated terror group IS with “insiders” pretending to be jihadists but their information cannot be used.
Our source explained that: “Very rarely is human intelligence like this used in trials as, evidentially, it is not properly recorded because of the circumstances in which sources find themselves.”
It is unlikely hours of intercepted phone and social media recordings linked to the pair can be used as either. Both men were friends of Mohammed Emwazi, the monster known as “Jihadi John”.
Kotey admitted to the Mirror in his Syrian jail last year he’d saved Emwazi on the battlefield.
He also said he and el-Sheikh were terrified of being flown to the US, where they are likely to spend 23 hours-a-day for the rest of their lives in solitary.
They are both being held at a secret base run by US and Iraqi security forces west of Baghdad. They can’t be sent to the US until UK evidence is handed over.
Legal wrangles are delaying the case but the Whitehall source said: “As soon as they get the green light to provide the UK evidence it is fair to assume they will be flown to the US and charged.”
Just supporting IS would land them more than 20 years in jail but Kotey is also suspected of “executions and cruelty,” according to sources.
El-Sheikh is likely to be accused of “waterboarding, mock executions and even crucifixions.”