El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, and Alexanda Amon Kotey, 36, have been transported to the U.S.
Two notorious Islamic State terrorists from Britain have been brought to the United States to be tried for their alleged role in the capturing, torturing, and gruesome beheading of Western hostages — including four Americans — in Syria in 2014 and 2015, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
In a news conference, Justice Department officials said that El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, and Alexanda Amon Kotey, 36, former British citizens and members of the ISIS cell known as “The Beatles,” are expected to make their first appearances Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.
Elsheikh and Kotey are charged with hostage-taking and other serious terrorism offenses that resulted in the deaths of American journalists Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff and humanitarian aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. Before being transported to the U.S., they had been detained in Iraq by the U.S. military.
Mueller was reportedly imprisoned by ISIS fighters in Syria for 18 months, during which time she was subjected to brutal rape and torture by “The Beatles” and even forced to marry since-killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Her death was announced in 2015 but her body has never been recovered.
The October 2019 U.S. forces operation that killed al-Baghdadi was subsequently named after Mueller.
In a statement regarding the charges, Attorney General William Barr said, “These charges are the product of many years of hard work in pursuit of justice for our citizens slain by ISIS. Although we cannot bring them back, we can and will seek justice for them, their families, and for all Americans.
“Our message to other terrorists around the world is this — if you harm Americans, you will face American arms on the battlefield or American law in our courtrooms. Either way, you will be pursued to the ends of the earth until justice is done,” Barr added.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said during the news conference, “We have been inspired by [the American hostages’] memories and moved by the determination and grit of their families, families [who] will never rest until justice is done. To them, I say this: Neither will we.”
According to the indictment, Elsheikh and Kotey engaged in prolonged physical and psychological violence against the hostages. They made up one half of “The Beatles,” along with the Mohamed Emwazi, also known as “Jihadi John,” who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2015, and an unnamed fourth who is currently incarcerated in Turkey.
Prosecutors will reportedly not seek the death penalty as a part of the charges. That option was taken off the table to pave the way for the terrorists to be transferred to the U.S. and allow for British authorities to share evidence and information.
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Author: Phil Shiver