- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 30, 2018

Two members of the infamous group of Islamic State fighters known as “The Beatles” could be headed to the U.S. military’s detention center at Guantanamo Bay, as part of an effort by the Trump White House to deal with the growing influx of ISIS terrorists captured on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria.

Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, who are currently being detained by Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF in Syria are reportedly part of a group of British nationals dubbed “the Beatles,” who carried out the bloody executions of U.S. journalists James Foley, Steven Sotloff and an American aid worker Peter Kassig for the terror group.

Hundreds of other captured ISIS foreign fighters scattered across Syria and northern Iraq, whose countries have denied repatriation, will be shipped to an unnamed Iraqi prison under the Trump administration’s plan. Details of that plan were first reported by NBC News.

Currently, 489 detainees currently in custody of Iraqi and U.S.-backed Arab-Kurdish paramilitary coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF, most of which are being detained in Syria. The SDF, with the backing of American artillery and airpower, liberated the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa from the terror group’s control last year.

Since the fall of Raqqa, U.S. and coalition officials have wrestled with options on what to do with captured ISIS fighters. The Defense Department thus far has pursued the option of repatriation versus re-opening the Guantanamo Bay facility to new detainees. Early in his inaugural term in office, Mr. Trump pledged to fill the military prison in Cuba with “bad dudes,” a policy stance which ran counter to President Obama’s push to permanently shutter the facility.

In January, Mr. Trump issued an executive order to restart housing detainees at Guantanamo, prompting a 90-day Pentagon assessment of U.S detainee operations, including restarting transfers of terror detainees to the Cuban military prison.

Defense Secretary James Mattis sent White House the findings of the Guantanamo review and subsequent policy recommendations in May. Pentagon Press Secretary Dana White confirmed that Mr. Mattis’ recommendations had been received by the White House, but declined to provide little more detail to reporters.

“He did submit it… and ultimately the White House will decide how we move forward with the policy,” she said during a briefing at the Pentagon that month.

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