TWO British suspected terrorists are facing charges in the US over the beheading of Western hostages including Bolton aid worker Alan Henning.

The US Justice Department announced the charges against Alexanda Kotey, 36, and El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, both from west London, over their participation in a "brutal hostage-taking scheme that resulted in the deaths of four American citizens, as well as the deaths of British and Japanese nationals, in Syria".

The pair were due to arrive in the US in FBI custody today (Wednesday) and make their first appearance in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, in the afternoon.

Kotey and Elsheikh are being held over the killings of British and US citizens which were among many filmed and beamed around the world in graphic detail by so-called Islamic State.

They are accused of belonging to a cell of executioners in Syria, known as The Beatles because of their British accents, and are said to be responsible for killing a number of Western captives including Britons Mr Henning and David Haines.

According to documents from the US Justice Department, Kotey and Elsheikh are each charged with "conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death; four counts of hostage taking resulting in death; conspiracy to murder United States citizens outside of the United States; conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists - hostage taking and murder - resulting in death; and conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation resulting in death".

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of life in prison, the papers said.

The pair were captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces in January 2018 and transferred to the custody of the US military in Iraq in October 2019, remaining in American custody ever since.

Last month, families of the men allegedly killed by the pair welcomed news they were likely to face trial in the US after a High Court ruling allowed the UK to share case information with US authorities, describing the decision as a "huge result for us".