The 38-year-old British national is accused of belonging to a brutal Islamic State cell known as ‘the Beatles’
A British man alleged to have worked with an infamous Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) unit known for torturing and beheading western captives has been arrested on terrorism charges in the UK, according to local media reports.
Aine Davis, 38, was taken into custody soon after his flight arrived at Luton airport north of London on Tuesday night, the Times reported, citing a statement by Scotland Yard.
“A 38-year-old man was arrested this evening after he arrived into the UK on a flight from Turkey,” the police agency said, noting he is suspected of several terrorism offenses and had been taken to a south London police station for holding.
According to the Times, Davis was arrested on “suspicion of terrorist fundraising, being concerned in a terrorist funding arrangement and possession of an article for terrorist purposes.”
While officials have so far offered few details on the suspect’s identity – with the Home Office only confirming that a UK national had been deported from Turkey to face charges – the Times, the Guardian and the BBC each reported that Davis is accused of belonging to an IS cell known as ‘the Beatles,’ nicknamed for its members’ clear British accents.
The now-defunct unit became infamous for extreme acts of violence and brutality against western hostages in Iraq and Syria between 2014 and 2015, some of which were filmed and posted online for propaganda purposes. Its three other alleged members have since been killed or captured, with two arrested and facing charges in the United States, while its believed ringleader, ‘Jihadi John,’ was killed in an American drone strike near Raqqa, Syria in 2015.
Davis spent the better part of eight years in a Turkish prison on terrorism charges, accused of fighting alongside IS in Syria, but has insisted on his innocence and denies any role with the group. During his trial in Turkey, he dismissed images showing him posing with armed militants, arguing they were “stupid photos” and meant as a joke.
However, Davis’ wife was charged in the UK in 2014 for sending him cash while he was overseas, and at the time prosecutors alleged he was “supporting the familiar black flag adopted by extremist jihadist terrorist groups” such as IS. Davis also acknowledged he attended the same London mosque as ‘Jihadi John’ (born Mohammed Emwazi) before traveling to Syria, but maintains he did not join the kidnapping and executions once they arrived in the war-riven country.
The British government has yet to formally announce charges against Davis, and his legal situation could become complicated given his prior prison time in Turkey. Under UK law, individuals may not be prosecuted for the same offense multiple times, even if a previous prosecution occurred in a foreign country, a principle known as ‘double jeopardy.’ Even short of charges, police could still invoke a terrorism prevention measure which allows for certain restrictions on suspects and closer scrutiny from law enforcement.