(Alexandria) One of the members of the kidnapping gang “Islamic State” (IS) called “Beatles” pleaded guilty to complicity in the kidnapping and murder of Western hostages, including four Americans, in a federal court in the United States on Thursday.
Posted on Sep 2, 2021 at 1:58 pm Updated at 8:30 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.
In particular, they are accused of being involved in the killings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as unskilled workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller, who were killed in 2014.
Judge TS Ellis, who chaired the hearing, will deliver the verdict on March 4, 2022. The defendant faces several life sentences with no right to early release.
By pleading guilty, Alexanda Kotey agreed with the government to provide all information in her possession regarding her actions in Syria as well as any foreign governments that have requested it.
The agreement also stipulates that after 15 years in prison he will be extradited to the UK, where he will also be prosecuted for kidnapping and hostage-taking.
The former London-born sporting goods salesman whom he radicalized himself at spoke English.
He said in a statement that he had joined Syria to fight against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and believed that “the Islamic concept of armed jihad is of great value and a legitimate cause”. He then joined the IS unit that was responsible for kidnapping and detaining non-Muslim hostages.
“You participated in a conspiracy to take hostages and demand a ransom because you knew these kidnappings would lead to the deaths of hostages,” said Judge Ellis, who did not respond to his arguments.
The families of the four American victims were present in the courtroom. Prosecutor’s representative Dennis Fitzpatrick said they agreed to the deal between the defendant and the authorities.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh were captured by Syrian Kurdish forces in January 2018 and then handed over to the US military in Iraq.
You were extradited from Iraq to the United States in October 2020 to appear before the American judiciary.
London, which initially did not want 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. According to Mr. Fitzpatrick, they found “ongoing physical and psychological violence” against the hostages.
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 ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in October 2019 was referred to as “Task Force 8-14” after Kayla’s birthday. The young humanist was kidnapped in Aleppo in 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 in late 2014. many times before he killed her.