THE NEUTRAL ZONE
Two Islamic State militants were indicted in the U.S. after they were extradited from Britain. The eight-count indictment accuses El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey of “leading participants in a brutal hostage-taking scheme” that resulted in the deaths of Western hostages from 2012 to 2015. It also accused them of engaging in a “prolonged pattern of physical and psychological violence against the hostages.” The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
In interviews with The Washington Post and other outlets, Elsheikh and Kotey admitted that they joined the Islamic State and took information from hostages for ransom negotiations. They said they engaged with Foley, Mueller, Sottlof, Kassig and other prisoners who were then killed. They claimed to have no involvement in or advance knowledge of those executions.
The James W. Foley Foundation said in a press release, “We, the families of James Foley, Peter Kassig, Kayla Mueller and Steven Sotloff, welcome the news that two ISIS fighters accused of playing a role kidnapping, tormenting and murdering Western hostages have been brought to stand trial in the United States.” Diane Foley, mother of James Foley, said she is “hugely” grateful the men are facing 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.” FBI Director Christopher Wray memorialized the victims and emphasized the commitment to bring Elsheikh and Kotey to justice. John C. Demer, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, outlined the effort that went into achieving the indictment and thanked the U.K. for its cooperation.
British ISIS suspects known as the Beatles charged for the deaths of 2 American journalists, 2 aid workers – USA Today – 10/7/2020
Officials said Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, whom captives had referred to as the Beatles because of their British accents, and two other co-conspirators were involved in the kidnapping, torturing and killing of American, European and Japanese hostages from 2012 to 2016. The two are now in FBI custody in the United States and are set to appear Wednesday in federal court in Alexandria, Va., just outside of Washington, D.C.
DOJ Announces British ISIS Terrorists Will Stand Trial in U.S. for Murder of American Hostages – National Review – 10/7/2020
The two “Beatles” are charged with several felonies, including hostage taking resulting in death, conspiracy to murder a U.S. citizen outside of the U.S., and conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization resulting in death. They face a maximum penalty of life in prison for each count.
ISIS ‘Beatles’ Land in U.S. to Face Charges for American Hostage Executions – The Daily Beast – 10/7/2020
In an apparent reference to journalist Austin Tice, who is believed to still be in custody in Syria, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau and its partners “are working tirelessly every day to recover all U.S. hostages held abroad.” Wray thanked the families of Foley, Sotloff, Kassig and Mueller for forcing the U.S. government to restructure its hostage-rescue efforts. Addressing the families of the victims, Terwilliger said, “ISIS will not have the last word when it comes to your children. You will.”
Justice Department unseals charges against British ISIS members involved in the death of 4 Americans – The Washington Times – 10/7/2020
The announcement marks a significant step in the nearly five-year legal battle to bring them to justice. It also sets the stage for perhaps the biggest terrorism trial since 2014’s case against the mastermind behind the attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.