ISIS ‘Beatles’ member Alexanda Kotey who is charged with plotting to torture and behead US and European hostages in Syria is set to plead guilty today
- Alexanda Kotey was brought to the US last year to face criminal charges
- He was held in connection with the deaths of four American hostages
- The Justice Department promised he would not receive a death sentence
- Accused of killing James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller
- He has also been linked to the torture and killing of other Western hostages
An ISIS Beatles member who is charged with plotting to torture and behead Western hostages in Syria is set to plead guilty to criminal charges today.
Alexanda Kotey, one of four members of the terror group dubbed the Beatles by their captives for their British accents, has a change of plea scheduled in the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, today, federal court records show.
He and another man, El Shafee Elsheikh, who are both British but renounced their citizenship when they joined ISIS in Syria in 2014, were brought to the US last year after being held in military custody in Iraq to face charges in connection with the killings of four hostages.
Court documents do not indicate the specific charge or charges to which Kotey, also known as Ringo, is expected to plead.
The indictment charges them in connection with the deaths of four American hostages – journalist James Foley, journalist Steven Sotloff and aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller – as well as European and Japanese nationals who also were held captive.
Alleged ISIS Beatles member Alexanda Kotey who is charged with plotting to torture and behead Western hostages in Syria is set to plead guilty to criminal charges today (pictured in 2018)
The Justice Department, in order to obtain their extradition, promised neither defendant would face a death sentence.
A British Supreme Court judgment ruled it was unlawful for the UK to share evidence with Washington without seeking assurances that the pair will not face execution.
The mother of Elsheikh had mounted a legal challenge saying it would breach the UK’s opposition to capital punishment, and a deal was struck between te US and and the UK.
Nothing in the court records indicates that Elsheikh, known as George, has reached a plea deal.
American journalist James Foley was abducted by ISIS while working as a freelance war correspondent during the Syria Civil War.
Elsheikh previously admitted that Foley would sometimes subject himself to beatings to ensure the hostages were given enough food.
‘If the guard would ask, ‘Is the food enough?’ some of the other prisoners were very timid. It was always him who would say, ‘It’s not enough”, Elsheikh said.
He also said: ‘I didn’t choke Jim.
‘If I choked Jim I would say I choked him. I mean, I’ve — I’ve hit him before. I’ve hit most of the prisoners before.’
Kotey was brought to the US along with El Shafee Elsheikh (pictured) to face charges in connection with four killings
Foley was held by ISIS for two years before being executed on video in August 2014.
American aid worker Kayla Mueller was captured and held hostage in Syria, where she was sexually abused and tortured before she died aged 26 in 2015.
She was abducted in 2013 and during her captivity, she was raped by the former ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, U.S. officials have said.
ISIS reportedly demanded 5 million euros from Mueller’s family, telling them that they would send ‘a picture of Kayla’s dead body’ if their demands were not met.
ISIS said that Mueller was killed near Raqa in February 2015 during an air raid carried out by the US-led international coalition against the jihadists, although the exact circumstances of her death remain unclear.
The terror group sent photos of her dead body to her family which indicate she died from blunt force trauma rather than a bomb blast.
Steven Sotloff, 31, an American-Israeli journalist, was killed on September 2, 2014, after being held captive for more than a year in northern Syria.
Kotey has been charged in connection with the deaths of journalist James Foley (left) and aid worker Peter Kassig
He was beheaded by Jihadi John on camera after ISIS demanded a ransom of $140million which the US government refused to pay.
Former US Army Ranger Peter Kassig was killed in 2014 after being captured by ISIS in Syria in October 2013.
The 26-year-old was working to provide aid to Syrians who were fleeing the country’s civil war and had formed the aid organization Special Emergency Response and Assistance, or SERA, in Turkey to provide aid and assistance to Syrian refugees.
He was said by his friends to have converted to Islam in captivity and took the first name Abdul-Rahman.
In 2014, graphic footage was released by ISIS showing Kassig was beheaded in captivity.
Raj Parekh, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and also a member of the prosecution team on the Kotey and Elsheikh cases, declined comment Tuesday evening.
Geremy Kamens, a federal public defender who represents Kotey, also declined comment.
The most prominent member of the ‘Beatles’, Mohammed Emwazi, also known as ‘jihadi John,’ was killed in a 2015 Hellfire drone strike.
Kotey is also charged over the death of US human rights activist and humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller (left) and Steven Sotloff (right)
The hooded executioner was filmed killing victims in sickening videos that terrified the world in 2014 when ISIS spread them.
A fourth member, Aine Lesley Davis, is serving a prison sentence in Turkey.
The indictment says Kotey and Elsheikh were radicalized in London and left for Syria in 2012 as ‘leading participants in a brutal hostage-taking scheme’ that targeted American and European citizens and that involved murders, mock executions, shocks with Tasers, physical restraints and other brutal acts.
Prosecutors say the men worked closely with a chief spokesman for ISIS who reported to the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a U.S. military operation last year.
The indictment accuses Kotey and Elsheikh of participating in the kidnapping of Foley and other captives.
It says they supervised detention facilities for hostages and were responsible for transferring the captives, and that they also engaged ‘in a long pattern of physical and psychological violence.’
In July, prosecutors described the pair as ‘principal offenders’ in the captivity of the four American hostages.
In a 2018 interview, Kotey said the killings were ‘regrettable’ but blamed Western governments for failing to negotiate.
The indictment accuses Kotey (left) and Elsheikh (right) of participating in the kidnapping of Foley and other captives
He said many in the terror group ‘would have disagreed’ with the deaths ‘on the grounds that there is probably more benefit in them being political prisoners’.
He added: ‘I didn’t see any benefit (in killing them). It was something that was regrettable.’
Elsheikh said the killings were a ‘mistake’ and might not have been justified. But, he said, they were in retaliation for killings of civilians by the US-led coalition fighting ISIS.
He said the militants shouldn’t have initially threatened to kill the hostages because then they had to go ahead with it or else ‘your credibility may go.’
Kotey, who is of Ghanaian and Greek-Cypriot descent and converted to Islam in his 20s, is from London’s Paddington neighborhood.
Serving in the IS cell as a guard, he ‘likely engaged in the group’s executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods,’ the State Department said. It also said he was an IS recruiter who brought other Britons into the group.
Assuming the plea hearing goes forward as scheduled, Kotey and prosecutors would submit a statement of facts that will spell out in at least some detail the specific actions that he took.
The two were captured in Syria in 2018 by the U.S.-supported Syrian Democratic Forces while trying to escape to Turkey.
In interviews they gave before being brought to the U.S., the men acknowledged they helped collect email addresses from Mueller that could be used to send out ransom demands. Mueller was killed in 2015 after 18 months in IS captivity.
The indictment describes the execution of a Syrian prisoner in 2014 and says the two forced their Western hostages to watch.
Kotey instructed the hostages to kneel while watching the execution and holding signs pleading for their release.
Emwazi shot the prisoner in the back of the head while Elsheikh videotaped the execution. Elsheikh told one of the hostages, ‘You’re next,’ prosecutors say.
Elsheikh is scheduled to go on trial in January.
Who are the ISIS Beatles?
Mohammed Emwazi – Jihadi John
Emwazi was one of the most prominent members of the so-called ISIS Beatles and was regularly seen carrying out executions in their horrific beheading videos.
He took part in the barbaric beheadings of British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and US humanitarian worker Peter Kassig.
The terrorist, who was born in Kuwait and grew up in Queen’s Park, West London, was charged with 27 counts of murder and five counts of hostage taking in November 2014.
He was killed in a Hellfire missile drone strike in Syria in 2015.
Aine Lesley Davis – Paul
Davis was born Aine Leslie Junior Davis in 1984 to Fay Rodriquez, and is believed to have spent the early years of his childhood in Hammersmith where his mother lived.
He was one of 13 children his father had by four different women.
The former tube driver, who has drug-dealing and firearms convictions to his name, converted to Islam while in prison.
In 2014 his wife, Amal el-Wahabi, was convicted of funding terrorism after she persuaded a friend to try and smuggle £16,000 in cash in her underwear to him.
Davis was captured by Turkish security officials in 2015 and was later found guilty of being a senior member of a terrorist organisation and was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.
Alexanda Kotey – Ringo
Kotey was born to a Ghanaian father and a Greek Cypriot mother and grew up in Shepherd’s Bush, London.
Before his radicalisation, he is thought to have worked as a drug dealer before converting to Islam in his early 20s.
In 2012, he left for Syria where the US claims he was involved in beheadings and known for administering ‘exceptionally cruel torture methods’, including electronic shocks.
He is also accused of acting as an ISIS recruiter who convinced a number of other British extremists to join the terror group.
Kotey was captured in Syria while trying to escape to Turkey in 2018 and was held in a US military center in Iraq.
The British Government wanted him tried in the US, where officials believe there is a more realistic chance of prosecution than in the UK.
He was extradited last year and was charged with a number of terror offences.
El Shafee Elsheikh
El Shafee Elsheikh – George
Born in Sudan, Elsheikh, 33, grew up in West London and is the final member of the four British terrorists who fled to join ISIS.
He has been linked to the killings of a number of hostages after heading to Syria to join the extremist group.
He was captured along with Kotey when they tried to flee to Turkey in 2018 and has since been transported to the US where he now faces charges relating to terrorism and beheading Western hostages.
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