Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 | Last Update : 11:31 PM IST
It is estimated that 800 British men left to join ISIS and of these 400 have perhaps returned to Britain using their British passports.
“He said ‘Let there be light’
And there was a power cut.
He said ‘the meek shall inherit’
But the planet was ruined
He said ‘in the beginning was the word’
But the deaf couldn’t hear it
He turned water into wine
—And then we drank our fill.”
From Mini Driver has to be a Parsi, by Bachchoo
When the world’s journalists call the two ISIS terrorists arrested and held by Kurdish forces in Iraq “the Beatles”, I wonder what Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the real surviving Beatles, think about it. There is no way they can object to the notoriety of the four brutal murderers, steeped in the nastiest medieval interpretation of a metaphysical text being associated with their pop star fame.
These fours desperate British citizens of contemporary immigrant stock were so named by the journalists they captured and their associates because the most famous British foursome were John, Paul, George and Ringo. It’s not known whether the victims of the beheadings, who named these demented murderers, distinguished between them as the publicists of the Spice Girls did for their pop group. They called them Posh Spice and other adjectives which supposedly distinguished each.
The victims of the murderers certainly dubbed Muhammed Emwazi as Jihadi John. The others were not specifically identified as Paul, George or Ringo.
Emwazi, who proudly displayed videos of himself cutting the necks of journalists and aid workers on the Internet, was killed by a drone attack within ISIS territory. The second “Beatle”, Aine Davis, was apprehended in Turkey and is now in a Turkish jail.
The two remaining Beatles, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafi Elsheikh, have been apprehended by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces who are armed and supported by the United States.
The quartet is known to have beheaded 27 of their victims who were either journalists or aid workers and after their capture, the relatives of these victims have spoken up.
It is estimated that 800 British men left to join ISIS and of these 400 have perhaps returned to Britain using their British passports. The British government, in a very infrequently-used measure, has withdrawn the citizenship of Kotey and Elsheikh and has rendered them stateless.
These two captives of the Kurdish forces pose a universal legal problem. What’s to be done with them? They beheaded an American called James Foley, and his mother Diane Foley has told the press that she does not want them sent through the Kurdish-US connection to Guantanamo Bay, where they will be subject to no public, civil and judicial process. She wants them treated as murderers and arraigned before a jury in the United States. Depending on the state in which they are tried, they would face the death penalty.
The two captives were also complicit in the execution by ISIS of two British aid workers called David Haines and Alan Henning. The relatives of Haines are of the opinion that the two murderers should be tried in the International Court in The Hague. The problem with this court is that the US, China and Russia don’t recognise it as the arbiter of international justice, though it has been used to try African war criminals and Slobodan Milosevic. The court moves very slowly and the latter died before the trial was over.
In Britain, opinion is widely divided. There are those in government who, regardless of the fact that their passports were rescinded, want them returned to Britain. International law may challenge the process by which they have been made stateless. Nevertheless, this lobby favours their return to Britain to be tried and locked up in British jails for the rest of their lives as an example to those jihadi returners and others who are tempted into the ways and forces of terror.
There is no death penalty in Britain so such imprisonment is, ironically, the worst that can happen to these death cultists. It may be that questionable interrogation methods are frowned upon and certainly banned in the UK and so there’d be no prospect of getting the names and perhaps the plans of their associates from them. They were, after the defeat and rout of their death cult, planning to make their way through
Turkey back to Britain to carry on their version of “jihad” and the slaughter of innocents.
Their capture by the Kurds in their declared Kurdish zone of Syria means that Kotey and Elsheikh are no longer in a war zone and can’t be targetted and killed by drones, missiles or by any other means. There is no legal question attached to the elimination of “Jihadi John” by a drone dropped on a vehicle in which he was travelling in a war zone. There is no prospect now of landing Kotey and Elsheikh in such a zone and shooting them at point blank range as South Asian police forces do to criminals whom they “encounter”. “We civilised cats don’t do dat shit!”
The decent, civilised solution of a fair and public trial has the fundamental problem of evidence. If “Jihadi John” was on trial, one could have produced the self-incriminating boasts and videos he made as evidence. Is there parallel evidence from a war zone which could prove that Kotey and Elsheikh, despite being associated with the beheadings and being guilty as hell in the eyes of the men they beheaded, and who dubbed them part of “the Beatles”, partook in murder? The world may judge them from the fact as to who they were and where they were but is there clear evidence that they were murderers in ISIS?
Will they be able to plead, as they will be perfectly entitled through clever lawyers to do, that they were ambulance orderlies for the injured on the deluded Islamist side?
There may be no evidence that civilisation recognises as part of due process to convict them of the crimes that this commentary and others assumes they are guilty of.
Dead men tell no tales.