EXCLUSIVE: Turkey set to deport 'Islamic State Beatle' Aine Davis to UK
Aine Davis, who is originally from London, was convicted of membership of IS in 2017 and sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison after being arrested by Turkish security forces in Istanbul in November 2015.
He is currently being held at Ankara’s Sincan prison but is due to be released, having served his sentence. Davis is scheduled to be deported to the UK on 9 July, MEE has learnt.
However, procedures such as a mandatory comprehensive health check and his appearance in front of a probation board may delay his release by a few months.
Two other men arrested at the same time and convicted alongside Davis have already been released, MEE understands.
Davis has been identified in the British media as a member of the so-called “Beatles” cell responsible for guarding and executing western hostages in the period when the militant group controlled large areas of territory in Syria and Iraq. He was dubbed "Jihadi Paul" by the media.
The leader of the group, Mohammed Emwazi, dubbed "Jihadi John", was killed by a US drone strike in Raqqa in November 2015.
Two other members of the group are currently 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.
Middle East Eye contacted Davis's court-appointed solicitor in Istanbul but she declined to comment.
Interpol red notice
Davis was arrested by counter-terrorism police in a raid on a villa in Silivri, a western suburb of Istanbul, on 12 November 2015.
Turkish prosecutors accused him 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.
At the time of his arrest he was the subject of an Interpol red notice filed by UK police after his wife, Amal el-Wahabi, was convicted of a terrorism offence in 2014 for trying to send her husband 20,000 euros in cash.
'We aren’t going to become a dumping ground for the western extremists'
- Senior Turkish official
According to the Interpol red notice, which has been seen by MEE, the money was assessed to be “destined to support the Jihadist cause in Syria”.
The red notice, dated 6 March 2015, said items seized from Davis’s house in London included “violent jihadist rhetoric and imagery relating to Osama bin Laden”, and “US military literature on guerrilla warfare”.
Photographs from el-Wahabi’s phone showed “Davis pictured in Syria with guns, an Islamic flag, a dead martyr and other individuals who are also armed,” the notice said.
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.
He 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.”
It is unknown whether Davis, who is reported to have roots in The Gambia, still retains his British citizenship.
The UK government has used citizenship-stripping powers widely against British nationals deemed to hold dual citizenship who travelled to Syria during the country’s civil war.
At least 176 people had their British citizenship removed between 2016 and the end of 2020, according to government figures.
However, Turkish officials say they won’t host IS suspects on Turkish soil and would deport said individuals to their homes countries.
“We have been very clear on our policy,” one senior Turkish official told MEE. “We aren’t going to become a dumping ground for the western extremists.”
A British government spokesperson told MEE: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”