ISIS 'Beatle' sentenced to multiple life terms for killing Americans

ISIS fighters parade through Raqqa, Syria, in 2014 (Wikimedia Commons)

One of the ISIS “Beatles,” so described because the Muslim terrorists spoke with British accents, has been sentenced to multiple life terms in prison for his role in the deaths of several Americans.

The Department of Justice said in a statement that El Shafee Elsheikh was sentenced after being convicted on charges relating to the deaths of James Foley, Kayla Mueller, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig as well as several British and Japanese citizens.

Foley, a journalist, was murdered by decapitation after being abducted from Syria, Mueller was a human rights activist from Arizona who was taken by ISIS in 2013 in Syria, Sotloff also was a journalist who was beheaded by ISIS, and Kassig was an American aid worker, also beheaded.

Federal authorities identified Elsheikh as “the highest-ranking fighter for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham,” which is a foreign terrorist organization, to have faced a jury trial in the United States.

He was convicted on a long list of charges several months ago.

“Today, the men and women of the Department of Justice and our criminal justice system delivered justice,” explained Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “Today, we remember the four Americans for whom it was delivered: James Foley, Kayla Mueller, Steven Sotloff, and Peter Kassig. My thoughts are with their families, whose strength and resolve inspired the men and women of the Justice Department as they investigated and prosecuted this case with skill and determination.”

Assistant Director in Charge Steven D’Antuono said, “Today, El Shafee Elsheikh was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the heinous hostage-taking and appalling deaths of American, British, and Japanese citizens.

“This case has always been about the victims, and while this sentence does not take away any pain felt by their families, we hope that it brings some justice.”

FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate noted, “ISIS committed horrific acts against hostages held in Syria and nothing can make up for their suffering and loss. We will always remember the victims who perished and our thoughts today are especially with the Foley, Mueller, Sotloff, and Kassig families. Today’s sentencing demonstrates that those who kill or injure our citizens cannot hide forever.”

Evidence in the case confirmed that from November 2012 through Feb. 7, 2015, Elsheikh, 34, a former British citizen, “served as a leader in a wide-ranging conspiracy involving the captivity of 26 hostages in Syria. Elsheikh personally participated in the detention of and hostage negotiations for four American citizens – James Wright Foley, Kayla Jean Mueller, Steven Joel Sotloff, and Peter Edward Kassig – each of whom died as hostages in ISIS custody,” authorities reported.

He is thought to have been supervising ISIS’ detention facilities, along with two other ISIS operatives.

He and others were accused of “a prolonged pattern of physical and psychological violence against hostages that was meant as an effort to subdue the hostages. These actions were also intended to compel the victims’ family members and their governments to pay large monetary ransoms for their release, in addition to compelling the U.S. government and other governments to agree to other terms and conditions for the victims’ return.”

One of the tortures, the report said, was to force the victims to watch the murders of other hostages first.

ISIS often released videos of the executions.

Elsheikh and convicted co-conspirator Alexanda Amon Kotey, 38, were captured in 2018 trying to escape Syria into Turkey. Kotey pleaded guilty earlier.

A third man who participated in the videotaped beheadings, Mohammed Emwazi, killed in an airstrike in Syria in 2015.

Elsheikh was convicted by a jury in the Eastern District of Virginia of all eight of the offenses with which he was charged.

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