World News – United States – DOJ to indict 2 British ISIS militants accused of role in murder of US hostages


The US Justice Department is expected to announce charges this week against two British nationals suspected of being part of a notorious Islamic State cell accused of torturing and beheading Western hostages, according to a law enforcement official

The two men, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, were captured in Syria in 2018 by Kurdish allies from the US and have been transferred to US military detention in Iraq They are expected to arrive in the US in the near future , setting the stage for one of the biggest terrorism trials in the country in recent years

Kotey and Elsheikh are said to be half of a cell of Islamic State militants in Syria nicknamed « The Beatles » because of their British accents The cell became notorious in 2014 for its brutal treatment of hostages, including beheadings on camera group posted videos online

The specific charges Kotey and Elsheikh will face were not immediately clear, but the US government accused the Beatles of killing more than 27 people, including two US journalists – James Foley and Steven Sotloff – American aid worker Peter Kassig and British and Japanese journalists and aid workers

Atrocities have become a hallmark of the Islamic State, which regularly massacred Syrian and Iraqi prisoners and civilians

Decision to bring Kotey and Elsheikh to the US and bring them to justice ends the legal limbo they have been in since their capture

In 2015, the US made its first request to the British government for evidence the UK had gathered in its own investigation into Kotey, Elsheikh and others Britain, which had stripped the men of their citizenship, had concerns about handing over the documents to the US because the Justice Department could prosecute the death penalty against men

In 2018, the UK government caved in after deciding that Kotey and Elsheikh going to trial in the US was the best approach He agreed to transfer evidence without a guarantee from Washington not to seek the death penalty

But that ruling was put on hold after Elsheikh’s mother filed a lawsuit in the UK challenging the ruling

In August, Attorney General William Barr gave the British government assurances that the United States would not seek to execute the men if they were tried and convicted He also warned that the US would hand Kotey and Elsheikh over to Iraqi authorities for prosecution if the UK government fails to resolve the issue by October 15

Late last month, a UK court cleared the way for the two men to stand trial in the US, and UK authorities handed over the evidence Washington requested more than five years ago

This was the last US exhibit prosecutors are needed for their case against Kotey and Elsheikh, and the Justice Department is expected to announce criminal charges against the duo this week, the law enforcement official told NPR on condition of anonymity

ISIS was a growing power in Syria and Iraq when it finally burst into the consciousness of the American public in June 2014 with its takeover of the city of Mosul in northern Iraq

At the time, it was unclear whether the Iraqi government could resist the assault, and the US scrambled to try to consolidate its Iraqi allies In early August 2014, the Obama administration began carrying out airstrikes against the terrorist group in Iraq

A little over a week later, ISIS posted a graphic video online showing the murder of James Foley Foley was captured in Syria in 2012 by extremists and held hostage with other Westerners by the Islamic State

The group released a second video less than a month after Foley’s murder showing the murder of fellow American journalist Steven Sotloff A third American, aid worker Peter Kassig, was killed a few months later

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These videos were part of a series of other gruesome videos featuring a masked man dressed in black talking to the camera with a British accent The Western press has often referred to this man as « Jihadi John », and he was then identified as the leader of the cell, Mohammed Emwazi

A fourth American woman, Kayla Mueller, was also taken hostage by ISIS She was repeatedly raped by the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Mueller, was killed in 2015

Eventually the course of the fight against ISIS changed and the militants suffered a series of setbacks

Emwazi was killed in a US drone strike in 2015 The same year another cell member, Aine Davis, was captured in Turkey He was tried and sentenced by a Turkish court and sentenced to seven years of prison

Now the two remaining members of the group, Kotey and Elsheikh, face justice in the United States

In an editorial published this summer in the Washington Post, the families of the group’s American victims urged the US government to bring the two men to the US to face trial

Kotey and Elsheikh admitted they were from ISIS but denied playing a role in the killings In an interview with the Washington Post, they said they facilitated ransom negotiations with the families of the hostages and the respective hostage governments

ISIS freed several European hostages in exchange for ransom, but none of the Americans

In 2015 then-President Barack Obama announced changes to US hostage policy after families of US hostages expressed frustration and outrage at the way the government had handled the situation

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Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Beatles, Syria, Iraq, terrorism, El Shafee Elsheikh, Peter Edward Kassig, James Wright Foley, Alexanda Kotey

World news – States United – DOJ to indict 2 British ISIS activists accused of role in killing of US hostages


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