An associate of the slain executioner ‘Jihadi John,’ Alexanda Kotey likely stayed in the Middle East after 2009 mission
A joint investigation by the Washington Post and Buzzfeed News revealed on Sunday that Alexanda Kotey, a 32-year-old half-Ghanaian, half-Greek Cypriot Londoner moved to Syria to join the jihadist group shortly after traveling to Gaza with other British Muslims who later were named by the UK as having links to terrorism.
According to the report, Kotey was also an associate of Mohammed Emwazi, a notorious IS executioner nicknamed “Jihadi John,” who beheaded American, British, and Japanese hostages on film while taunting Western leaders. Emzawi died in a US drone strike in November 2015.
Sometime prior to leaving the UK, Kotey became a member of a network of Islamic extremists, known as the “London Boys,” who advocated violence and were linked to a number of terror attacks and plots in the UK.
In 2009, Kotey left the UK for Gaza on the aid convoy of 110 vehicles organized by then-MP George Galloway. On Galloway’s “Viva Palestine” mission, Kotey traveled alongside at least three known jihadis, the report confirmed.
A volunteer who traveled on the same boat as Kotey and the others told BuzzFeed News the Gaza trip “changed” Kotey, and wasn’t sure if he had ever returned to Britain after the mission was over.
It is unclear what happened to Kotey after 2009, though investigators believe he went to Raqqa, Syria shortly after leaving Gaza.
Once in Syria, he joined a group of British jihadis working as guards who quickly gained a reputation of cruelty toward their Western hostages.
According to former prisoners, the British jihadis tortured and violently beat the hostages, staged mock executions, and made them fight each other for their amusement.
Although Emwazi was the group’s executioner, the other members of the cell stood guard while he staged brutal executions in front of a camera. Emwazi beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, American aid worker Peter Kassig, and 18 members of the Syrian armed forces between August 2014 until his death.
A spokesman for Galloway denied any knowledge of the jihadist-linked volunteers who participated in the convoy, telling the Post “the names you have given are unknown to us.”
“There was, of course, a vetting procedure on those who applied to join the convoy,” the spokesman said, but was unable to confirm if any of the suspects named in the report were participants in the Viva Palestine initiative.
A day before the convoy was set to depart, nine volunteers were arrested by British police for suspected links to jihadist groups.
Galloway at the time slammed the arrests as a smear campaign and an effort to intimidate Britain’s Muslim community. All nine of the volunteers were later released without charge.
Among those who traveled with Kotey was Reza Afsharzadegan, a British-Iranian terror suspect who was trained by a top al-Qaeda operative in Somalia in 2006. Intelligence agencies believe he was sent back to the UK with instructions to recruit members for jihadist groups after his training.
Another member of Kotey’s group was Amin Addala, a London native who has also been named in British court documents as a member of a local jihadist cell in 2015.
A third volunteer, Manchester native Munir Farooqi, was convicted of terror offenses in 2011 after he tried to recruit two undercover police officers to join the Taliban in Afghanistan.