Gruesome photos of severed heads on poles were found by a Metropolitan Police expert on a mobile phone belonging to the brother of an alleged member of a notorious Isis hostage-taking cell, a US court heard yesterday.
El Shafee Elsheikh, who is accused of being one of the terrorists nicknamed “The Beatles” by their hostages because of their English accents, was also pictured in military gear on the device.
Matthew Hamilton, a Met digital forensics examiner, told the court in Virginia that a phone seized from the northwest London home of Khalid Elsheikh, the defendant’s brother, contained disturbing exchanges with a contact in Syria known as “Kasir”.
A couple of weeks later Khalid received an audio message from Kasir discussing a “roundabout just full of heads and bodies”, leading Khalid to write “Akhi [Brother] u take dem pics?”
Hamilton told the court he retrieved 12 deleted messages, including three photos of men’s heads on tall poles that were shown on screens in court. The images appeared to have been take in the aftermath of a battle between Isis and Syrian regime forces.
Khalid wrote: “Go easy sending me the pictures” in case the police “snatch me up”.
He received a voice message from Kasir, who seemed to be worried that their messages would be intercepted, declaring: “For the record’s sake I did not take them pictures, I have no knowledge how those pictures were taken… I am totally innocent of any crimes.”