(Alexandria) One of the members of the kidnapping gang of the Islamic State (IS) called “Beatles” was found guilty of complicity in the murder of four American hostages in a US federal court on Thursday.
Posted on Sep 2, 2021 at 1:58 pm
Cyril JULIEN Agence France-Presse
Alexanda Kotey, a 37-year-old former British citizen, has pleaded not guilty to El Shafee el-Sheikh, 33, another of the four IS kidnappers, in a court in Alexandria, near Washington.
This change in defense strategy could indicate that he has reached an agreement with prosecutors to avoid trial in exchange for his cooperation, but this has yet to be ratified by Judge TS Ellis, who leads the trial.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh were extradited from Iraq to the United States in October 2020 to appear before the American judiciary for their alleged involvement in the murder of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, who were killed in 2014, as well as unskilled workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Müller.
After their capture by Syrian Kurdish forces in January 2018, they were handed over to the US military in Iraq.
London, which refused to condemn them on its territory, withdrew their British citizenship.
Her extradition to the United States was only made possible after the American authorities assured London that they would not petition for a death sentence in this case.
“Working group 8-14”
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh were in the cell that their hostages called “Beatles” because of their British accent.
Both men grew up in the UK, where they radicalized before joining ISIS in Syria in 2012.
They are accused of kidnapping American, European, Japanese and Syrian hostages, torturing and killing their victims, in particular by beheading, from 2012 to 2015. Videos of the attacks that IS disseminated for propaganda purposes shocked the whole world.
The two men are said to have monitored the hostages’ detention locations and coordinated the ransom negotiations by email. They are also alleged to have “been implicated in repeated physical and psychological violence against hostages,” according to the American judiciary.
Suspected cell leader Mohammed Emwazi, nicknamed “Jihadi John”, was killed in a US air strike in Syria in November 2015, while the fourth “Beatle”, Aine Davis, is being held in Turkey after his conviction in 2017.
The US military operation, in which IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in October 2019, was referred to as “Task Force 8-14” following the anniversary of Kayla Mueller.
The young humanist was working with the Danish Refugee Council when she was kidnapped in Aleppo, northern Syria, in August 2013.
According to her parents, she was first tortured by her prison guards and then handed over to Baghdadi in late 2014, who allegedly raped her many times before killing her.