The British Islamic State militants known as ‘The Beatles’ were arrested at a protest in support of the 9/11 terror attacks at the US Embassy in London months before travelling to Syria, it emerged in a criminal indictment released on Wednesday.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were detained while attending a Muslims Against Crusaders demonstration on September 11, 2011, raising questions as to how the pair managed to evade UK authorities to join jihadists fighting in Syria.
The Londoners were charged by US prosecutors at the Eastern District of Virginia on Wednesday over the torture and kiling of British and American hostages.
In an embarrassing revelation for the British authorities, the US indictment states that the two men were “radicalised in London” and revealed that they had previously been arrested during the Muslims Against Crusades protest outside the US Embassy.
Muslims Against Crusades was a branch of a group set up by extremist preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed, whom the The Telegraph later revealed was recruiting for the Islamic State, and it had links to notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudhary.
The protest to mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, during which the US flag was burnt, was also attended by Choudhary and Siddhartha Dhar, known as “Jihadi Sid” who went on to become the Islamic State group’s executioner and a poster boy for the terror group.
Muslims Against Crusades was banned by Theresa May, the then Home Secretary, just two months later in November 2011.
The Metropolitan Police were unable to answer questions on what Kotey and Elsheikh were arrested for or what happened to their case.
Officers were facing questions on how they were able to travel to Syria just 11 months after their arrest, in August 2012, despite their arrests and links to a banned terror organisation.