A member of a group of British IS terrorists dubbed “the Beatles” by their hostages was sentenced Friday by a US court to 8 concurrent life sentences for kidnapping and murdering freelance journalist James Foley and participating in the detention and murder of three other Americans.
The sentencing of El Shafee Elsheikh, 34, comes on the eighth anniversary of Foley’s murder, which was broadcast around the world in a chilling beheading video by ISIS. Elsheikh was also convicted of the kidnapping and murder of journalist Steven Sotloff, human rights activist Kayla Mueller and aid worker Peter Kassig.
Elsheikj, who was imprisoned in Syria in 2018 along with colleague “Beatle” Alexanda Kotey, was described by prosecutors during his sentencing hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia as the most notorious, highest-ranking member of ISIS to face trial. . in the US The foursome had taken 26 Westerners hostage and killed four Americans and several British and Japanese nationals in Syria.
Kotey was sentenced to life in prison in April.
Judge TS Ellis described the crimes as horrific Friday, noting Elsheikh’s involvement in Mueller’s sexual abuse, his decision to give false testimony to police and his role as the group’s leader.
Due to a previous agreement with the United Kingdom, neither Elsheikh nor Kotey faced the death penalty. Another member of the group, Mohammed Emwazi, was killed in a drone strike in Syria in 2016. A fourth member, Aine Lesley Davis, was arrested in Turkey and extradited to the United Kingdom earlier this year on charges of terrorism.
After the conviction, Elsheikh immediately appealed to the court, citing the ineffective counsel. Ellis refuted the defense: “I think you’ve been diligent.”
Diane Foley, James Foley’s mother, addressed Elsheikh directly during her testimony Friday, saying, “Love is so much stronger than hate. I feel sorry for you Elsheikh.”
She told reporters Friday that more than 67 US citizens are currently being held and held hostage abroad.
Foley said in an appeal to President Joe Biden, “I urge our President Biden to use our smartest negotiations to get these innocent Americans home quickly or else they will die in captivity like our sons and daughter did.”
After her son’s death, Foley founded the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, which stands up for Americans held hostage abroad and promotes the safety of journalists worldwide.
She added: “Let this condemnation make clear to anyone who dared to kidnap, torture or murder a US citizen abroad. That the US justice will find you wherever you are, and that our government will hold you accountable.” will hold you accountable for your crimes against our citizens.”
Kayla Mueller’s parents, Marsha and Carl Mueller, told reporters on Friday that they have not given up searching for their daughter’s remains. The couple works with private entities to find Kayla and find out exactly what happened to their daughter. They told reporters they had met FBI Director Christopher Wray, who told them, “We won’t stop until we find Kayla.”
The 26-year-old was on a humanitarian mission in Turkey in August 2013 when ISIS kidnapped her after crossing the Syrian border to visit a hospital. In February 2015, US officials confirmed that she died while in custody by ISIS.
Elsheikh declined to speak during Friday’s sentencing. Marsha Mueller told reporters, “I was hoping he would be, but I wasn’t shocked that he appealed.”
Carl Mueller said of Elsheikh: “He is clearly cold with no regrets throughout the whole process and I still think he believes he did the right thing.”
Both families said they had met Kotey. Marsha Mueller told reporters Kotey “did express some regret” and that she was grateful for that.
Foley stressed that the government must act quickly in cases where Americans are detained, to avoid complicating the process of bringing them home.
Carl Mueller had harsh words for the Obama administration, which he said “had every chance to” [Kayla] home” during the 18 months she was allegedly held captive.
“They have certainly learned their lesson and our children have cost that and hopefully in the future our government will do as so many others did and get their people home. Don’t leave them there for 18 months.”
Copyright 2022 ABC NEWS. All rights reserved.
Follow WT LOCAL on Social Media for the Latest News and Updates.
Share this news on your Facebook,Twitter and Whatsapp.