Boris Johnson feared extremist revenge attacks on the UK as well as ‘reputational and policitcal risks’ if two British terrorists nicknamed ‘The Beatles’ were handed the death penalty in the US.
In a letter from June last year, Johnson – then Home Secretary – expressed the concerns while discussing whether the UK should aid the US in executing the men, whom were British citizens.
Islamic State jihadists Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were henchmen of Mohammed Emwazi – known as Jihadi John – who beheaded Western hostages on camera.
In a letter from June last year, Johnson – then Home Secretary – expressed the concerns while discussing whether the UK should aid the US in executing the men
Alexanda Amon Kotey, left, and El Shafee Elsheikh, who were allegedly among four British jihadis who made up a brutal Islamic State cell dubbed ‘The Beatles’
They were nicknamed The Beatles by their captives due to their British accents.
The UK eventually agreed to waive usual death penalty assurances with the two men who were captured in Syria.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson said in his private letter: ‘Because of our stance on the death penalty there is a wider reputational and political risk that would arise from executions in these cases following UK assistance.
‘There is also a national security risk whereby there may be reprisals by extremists against British citizens at home and abroad, should the men be executed.’
Elsheikh (right) was part of the terror cell which also included Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John (left) who was killed in a US air strike in 2015
Alexanda Kotey (left) and El Shafee Elsheikh (right) were nicknamed The Beatles by their captives due to their British accents
He did however, end up in favour of waiving death penalty assurances because the case is ‘unique and unprecedented’ and in Britain’s national security interests.’
Sajid Javid yesterday won a legal battle over sharing evidence with the US on the two terror cell members.
In a landmark case, senior judges rejected claims that the Home Secretary acted unlawfully by not seeking guarantees over the fate of Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh if they stood trial in America.
Then-15-year-old El Shafee Elsheikh, right, seen with his mother and younger brother Mahmoud, who was reportedly killed after also travelling to Syria
In July it was revealed that Britain had made clear it was ready to share confidential information with no such promises.
Elsheikh’s mother, Maha Elgizouli, challenged the Government’s decision in the High Court.
She argued that Mr Javid had secretly abandoned UK policy of passing on intelligence for prosecutions only in cases where there is no threat of capital punishment.
A Kurdish security officer escorts Alexanda Kotey, left, and El Shafee Elsheikh, at a security center in Kobani, Syria
But Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, sitting with Mr Justice Garnham, said Mr Javid had not broken the law.
He was within his rights to share with the US 600 witness statements gathered by the Metropolitan Police.
Kotey, 35, and Elsheikh, 30, are being held in Syria and have been stripped of their British citizenship.
They are accused of killing hostages, including British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
The Crown Prosecution Service decided there is ‘insufficient evidence’ to prosecute them in the UK.