A member of the so-called "Beatles" ISIS execution cell has been identified by the Washington Post and BuzzFeed News as Alexanda Kotey, a 32-year-old British national who had in the past taken part in a flotilla to Gaza.
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According to the report, Kotey is a member of a cell of Islamic State group executioners, the most famous of which was the so-called "Jihadi John," who was killed in a U.S. drone strike and identified as London resident Mohammed Emwazi. Together, the two were part of a four-man cell, credited with beheading at least 27 hostages, and collectively called "The Beatles" by British media. It is unclear if Kotey is "Ringo" or "George" – said to be the senior of the group.
The report, which says he was identified by British and American intelligence services, described Kotey as a soccer fan from Shepherd's Bush in west London who was part of an extremist network called the "London Boys."
Kotey, who is half Ghanaian, half Greek Cypriot, joined British MP George Galloway in a 2009 convoy to break the siege on Gaza. According to documents obtained by BuzzFeed, Kotey travelled to Gaza with Galloway and Reza Afsharzadegan, the alleged leader of the "London Boys" who was said to be close to Emwazi and two other extremists.
In response to reports, a spokesman for Galloway seemed to deny Kotey's presence on the Gaza flotilla, telling BuzzFeed that “there was, of course, a vetting procedure on those who applied to join the convoy the names you have given are unknown to us.”
According to a friend, since they tried to reach Gaza, all contact with Kotey has been lost and he has since crossed into Syria, though it is unclear how. The report says he then entered Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS in Syria.
Neighbors BuzzFeed traced down say Kotey was a “reserved, polite boy” who supported Queens Park Rangers soccer team. “I knew him since he was this big,” a neighbor said, “He grew up with my sons. He was lovely and a really quiet boy.”
However, Kotey began to radicalize after joining the Al-Manaar mosque in west London, where he reportedly began to call for suicide attacks.
“The next time I saw him he was bearded, full garments,” the neighbor said. “I did say to [his mother]: ‘Alexe’s changed his faith?’ and she said yes. She wasn’t too happy,” the report quoted her as saying.