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Aine Davis pleads guilty to Syria-related charges in UK court case

Davis, who has denied being a member of a notorious Islamic State execution cell, has been imprisoned since his arrest in Turkey in 2015
Aine Davis (L) told a court in Turkey that he had been 'showing off' in photos showing him with armed men in Syria in 2013 (Metropolitan Police handout)
Aine Davis (L) told a court in Turkey that he had been 'showing off' in photos showing him with armed men in Syria in 2013 (Metropolitan Police handout)

A British man convicted in Turkey of being a member of the Islamic State (IS) militant group has pleaded guilty in the UK to three terrorism offences.

Aine Davis was charged on his return to the UK in August last year after his deportation from Turkey where he was arrested in November 2015 and subsequently sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.

On Monday, Davis pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and two charges of funding terrorism between 2013 and 2014.

The funding terrorism charges were based on communications between Davis and his former wife, Amal El-Wahabi, who was convicted in 2014 of sending him money after he had travelled to opposition-controlled areas of Syria in 2013 during the country's civil war.

The firearm charge related to a photo sent to Wahabi by Davis which showed him holding a weapon alongside other armed men.

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Davis has been widely linked in the media to a British IS execution cell dubbed the “Beatles”, which was responsible for the executions of a number of western hostages held by IS in Syria in 2014 and 2015.

During his trial in Turkey, Davis denied being a member of either IS or the “Beatles”.

He said he believed he had been linked to the group because he had attended the same mosque in west London as Mohammad Emwazi, the masked man dubbed “Jihadi John” by the media who was identified as the leader of the group.

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Emwazi was killed by a US drone strike in Raqqa on 12 November 2015. Davis was arrested by Turkish police in a villa near Istanbul on the same day.

Middle East Eye revealed in July 2022 that the villa where Davis was arrested was rented by an FBI informant.

Two other members of the group, both also from London, are in prison in the US after being captured by Kurdish forces in Syria and sent to the US to stand trial.

Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were last year sentenced to life in prison on charges relating to the abduction, torture and beheading of hostages in Syria.

During the course of legal proceedings in London it emerged that Priti Patel, the then home secretary, had sought to arrange for Davis to be extradited from the UK to the US.

But this was thwarted when lawyers prosecuting Kotey and Elsheikh said they were not seeking to prosecute Davis “because the evidence was there were only three members and not four members of that cell”.

During his Turkish court case, Davis denied being a fighter in Syria, and said he had travelled into the country to take part in aid work during the then escalating civil war.

He conceded he had acted “stupidly” by posing for photos with guns and armed militants - photos that would later appear in British newspapers.

“Everyone was having photos taken with armed individuals like that in order to show off,” he told the court.

Davis’s legal team in the UK argued that he should not be tried twice for the same offence, suggesting that he had already been punished in Turkey for his activities in Syria.

But this was rejected by Judge Mark Lucraft and also by the Court of Appeal.

Davis is due to be sentenced next month.

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