U.S. officials reported that El Shafee Elsheikh was thought to be part of the terrorist organisation's brutal executions gang known as "the Beatles". Foley, another American journalist, had been killed a month earlier by the Islamic State.
Kurdish fighters in the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces have captured the last two members of a notorious Islamic State cell known for carrying out brutal torture and executions of Western prisoners, USA officials said Thursday.
Aine Davis is being detained in Turkey on terror charges, while El-Shafee el-Sheikh is also believed to be held by the SDF.
By effectively washing its hands of the two men, Britain has left the way open for America, which is thought to already have the pair in custody in a United States special forces facility in adjoining Iraq, to decide on the manner of their disposal.
The cell was believed to be behind the killing of American journalist James Foley and numerous Western aid workers.
The capture of Elsheikh and Kotey could yield precious intelligence about what happened to those fighters as IS was defeated on the battlefield, and information about the fate of their hostages, said Shiraz Maher, a senior research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence at King's College London.
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She later told BBC Scotland that she personally would have wanted the men to die a "slow, painful death".
"We think that he was a member of a group that has been torturing foreign hostages", the Kurdish official said.
Led by Mohammed Emwazi, the executioner known as Jihadi John, the British group began its activities, including a series of grotesque beheadings, in mid-2013.
The SDF previous year turned over another English-speaking IS captive to the USA forces.
The U.S. has been training the SDF in border and internal security, including how to screen individuals and determine if they are foreign fighters or other enemies hiding in the general population.
Bethany Haines, 20, whose aid worker dad David was executed on camera by Emwazi in 2014, said she hoped the pair's detention could bring some closure for relatives of their victims.
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Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told The Times: "These are people who have done absolutely vile and despicable crimes and brought absolutely so much misery".
"I am glad they have been hunted down and now is time for them to be held to account and pay the price for their barbaric crimes".
"As a guard for the cell, Kotey likely engaged in the group's executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electronic shock and waterboarding", said a statement from the US Departement of State from January 2017, adding that Kotey had acted as a recruiter.
"The Beatles", the State Department said, "is responsible for holding captive and beheading approximately two dozen hostages, including several Westerners".
Tobias Ellwood, a British defence minister, said yesterday the pair should face an global war crimes tribunal and not be sent to Guantanamo Bay as some have speculated will occur.
"This is the beginning of a process that will bring them eventually, hopefully, to a trial".
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"What I'm looking for is justice and Guantanamo is a denial of justice", he told The Associated Press on Friday. "What I want is a trial and a trial potentially that I can attend, so rather, a trial in London rather than one in Kobani in northern Syria".
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