Aine Davis guilty of being senior Islamic State member

By Steve Swann
BBC News Home Affairs team

Image source, Zeynep Ozatalay
Image caption,
Aine Davis in court in Turkey on Tuesday

A British man suspected of being part of an Islamic State group that beheaded hostages has been convicted of a terrorism offence in Turkey.

Aine Davis, 33, of London, had been arrested in 2015 near Istanbul.

He was found guilty of being a senior member of a terrorist organisation and jailed for seven-and-a-half years.

The BBC understands Davis was one of a four-man IS cell nicknamed "The Beatles", which included the person dubbed Jihadi John.

Davis, the only one of the group to face a trial, had denied the charges against him.

One of the group's former captives welcomed the conviction by a Turkish judge at the court in at Silivri.

Spanish journalist Javier Espinosa, who was subjected to mock executions, told BBC News it did not matter where Davis was tried.

"He should face justice wherever it is. It doesn't matter if it's in England or Turkey or wherever. He should be in jail forever."

Media caption,
The group known as "The Beatles" beheaded IS hostages

Davis is a convert to Islam who has a string of drug and firearms convictions in the UK.

He left his home in west London in 2013 and joined the so-called Islamic State group.

His wife, Amal El-Wahabi, was jailed in November 2014 for funding his terrorism following a trial at the Old Bailey.

Davis was arrested in November 2015 in a counter terrorism operation centred on a house in Silivri, a coastal town just outside Istanbul.

Image caption,
Davis (left) claimed he was not involved with IS

The trial heard how he had been tracked there by Turkish police and intelligence officials days after being smuggled out of Syria by IS.

Monitoring of encrypted text messages suggested he was meeting an unnamed man suspected of plotting a terror attack in Turkey.

When police raided the house in Silivri they found a group of men, including three other Britons who were also accused of being members of a terrorist organisation - IS - charges they each denied.

The case was recently dropped against two of them - Mohammed Karwani, 40, from London, and Jermaine Burke, 29, from High Wycombe, who will be deported to the UK.

Two other men were convicted by the court, while a third Briton, Deniz Solak, 33, from east London, was found not guilty.

Days after the arrests IS operatives killed 130 people in Paris. Press reports in Turkey suggested Davis was suspected of planning a simultaneous attack but he was never accused of that in his trial.

In court, the prosecution said Davis was a senior member of IS.

Asked about allegations that he was a friend of the IS hostage killer Mohammed Emwazi or "Jihadi John", he admitted knowing him from praying at the same west London mosque, but denied being a friend.

Image source, other
Image caption,
"The Beatles" IS cell included Mohammed Emwazi, "aka Jihadi John"

Davis told the judge that press stories falsely claimed he was one of the British IS guards - nicknamed "The Beatles" - who held and killed hostages.

He said he was not the head of that unit, adding: "I am not ISIS. I went to Syria because there was oppression in my country."

Speaking in English before the verdict, he told the court: "I want to make clear I am innocent of the charges…

"I don't even know why this case has taken so long to judge. I just want my freedom."

Despite these denials, the BBC understands Davis was one of the four Beatles. Emwazi was killed in a US missile strike days after Davis was arrested.

The US State Department recently named fellow west Londoners Alexanda Kotey, 33, and El Shafee Elsheikh as the other British members of what they called an "execution cell" accused of "beheading more than 27 hostages and torturing many more".

They are understood to still be in IS territory in Syria.