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Aine Davis: Alleged Islamic State 'Beatle' charged with terror offences after landing in UK

Davis, originally arrested in 2015 in Istanbul, was detained on arrival at Luton Airport after being deported from Turkey
Aine Davis, left, said he had posed with gunmen in the Syrian province of Idlib in 2013 to "show off" (Metropolitan Police handout)

An alleged member of an Islamic State (IS) execution cell dubbed "the Beatles" has been arrested at Luton Airport and charged with terrorism offences after being deported late on Wednesday from Turkey.

Aine Davis was released from a maximum-security prison in Ankara where he had served a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for being an IS member.

Middle East Eye first reported in late June that Davis was scheduled to be deported to the UK this summer.

Davis, who is originally from London, will appear in court on Thursday morning, Reuters reported.

"Mr Davis, 38, has been charged with terrorism offences and possession of a firearm for a purpose connected with terrorism," the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Davis has been identified in the British media as being a member of the "Beatles" cell responsible for guarding and executing western hostages in the period when the group controlled large areas of territory in Syria and Iraq

The leader of the group, Mohammed Emwazi, dubbed "Jihadi John," was killed by a US drone strike in Raqqa in November 2015. 

Davis was arrested by Turkish counter-terrorism police on 12 November 2015 during a raid on a villa in a western suburb of Istanbul. As previously reported by MEE, the FBI had rented the villa where Davis was arrested.

Turkish prosecutors accused Davis of being a "known high-ranking operative of Daesh [IS]," and said he had been tracked as he crossed the border from IS-controlled Syria and made his way across Turkey.

'Important meeting'

At his trial, Davis denied being a member of IS and denied being a member of "the Beatles". He said he believed he had been linked to Emwazi because the men had attended the same London mosque.

He said he had travelled to Syria earlier in the country's civil war to participate in aid work but had mostly been living in Turkey.

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During his trial, prosecutors cited intercepted phone messages, which they said showed he had been in contact with known IS operatives to request help crossing the border into Turkey to attend an "important meeting" and to "engage in provocative and sensational actions".

Evidence against Davis included an Interpol red notice for his arrest posted by British police.

The red notice said material seized from his wife's phone in the UK included photos of Davis with "guns, an Islamic flag, a dead martyr and other individuals who are also armed".

It said he had referred in messages to his wife to "being 'on point', believed to be a reference to assuming the most advanced position in a combat military formation advancing through hostile territory".

Davis dismissed images showing him posing with armed militants and weapons as "stupid photos" that he had posed for as a joke.

He told the court: "I had those photos as a sort of joke. Everyone was having photos taken with armed individuals like that in order to show off.

"I do not know who those people in the photos were or which group they were in."

FBI sting

Last month, MEE revealed how in 2015 the FBI had rented the luxury Istanbul villa used as a safe house by Davis where he was arrested.

In an apparent sting operation, the US domestic intelligence agency then tipped off Turkish authorities about a purported IS plot to attack the city, prompting counter-terrorism police to raid the villa and arrest six men including Davis.

EXCLUSIVE: FBI rented Istanbul villa where 'Islamic State Beatle' Aine Davis was caught
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Turkish prosecutors eventually admitted that no evidence of a plot, other than a foreign intelligence report that they dismissed, existed.

Davis and two other men were nevertheless eventually convicted of membership of IS.

The two other men have already been released, MEE understands.

In its investigation, MEE revealed that a veteran FBI undercover operative involved in the operation was himself later jailed in the US, after revealing details of his role in entrapment operations, including heroin smuggling, and threatening his former bosses following his dismissal from the bureau.

The operative, Kamran Faridi, paid the rent and signed a tenancy agreement for the Istanbul property in the seafront suburb of Silivri, where Davis was captured.

Two members of the "Beatles" group are in prison in the US after being captured by US-backed Kurdish forces and handed into US custody.

Alexanda Kotey was sentenced to life in prison in April after pleading guilty to criminal charges relating to the abduction, torture and beheading of hostages in Syria. El Shafee Elsheikh was found guilty of the same charges but is yet to be sentenced.

Both men were taken to the US in 2020 to face trial after authorities promised not to seek the death penalty. Kotey pleaded guilty last year in a plea bargain that calls for a life sentence but leaves open the possibility that he could serve out his sentence in the United Kingdom after 15 years in the US.