A federal court has found a senior ISIS operative guilty of his role in the deaths of four American nationals taken hostage in Syria.
El Shafie Elsheikh33, was a senior ISIS fighter and “an integral part of a wide-ranging conspiracy that included the capture of 26 hostages in Syria,” according to a Justice Department press release.
“Elsheikh personally attended the detention and hostage trials for four American citizens —James Wright Foley, Kayla Jean Muller, Steven Joel Sotloffand Peter Edward Kassig– all of whom died as hostages in IS custody,” the press release said.
“In addition, Elsheikh personally participated in the detention and hostage negotiations for British, French, Italian, Danish, German, Spanish, Swedish, Belgian, Swiss and New Zealand nationals.”
In 2014, ISIS released videos showing the beheadings of two journalists, Foley and Sotloff, as well as a video showing the head of aid worker Kassig. In February 2017, Kayla Mueller’s family received an email from ISIS confirming her death in Syria.
He was convicted of the following charges:
- A charge of conspiracy to commit a hostage situation resulting in death
- Four instances of hostage situations that resulted in the deaths of the four Americans
- A charge of conspiracy to murder US citizens outside the United States
- A conspiracy to provide material support or resources to terrorists that resulted in the deaths of US, British, and Japanese nationals
- A conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization that resulted in the deaths of US, British and Japanese nationals.
Elsheikh is a former British citizen who was part of a group of ISIS members known to hostages as the “Beatles” because of their British accent.
Evidence presented at the trial showed that Elsheikh was one of three ISIS members overseeing the prison and detention facilities where the hostages were being held. They engaged in a “protracted pattern of physical and psychological violence against hostages intended as an attempt to subdue the hostages,” the DOJ said.
“These actions should also force victims’ families and their governments to pay large ransoms for their release, in addition to forcing the US and other governments to agree to different terms for the victims’ return,” the press release added .
Evidence from the trial also showed that Elsheikh and his co-conspirators were involved in “violently subjecting the hostages to the murder of other hostages held by ISIS, including a Russian hostage killed in or about February 2014 and a Syrian.” Prisoner executed in or around February April 2014.”
“This is a little piece of justice that will help us heal a little.” Karl MuellerKayla’s father said at a press conference after the conviction. “But I don’t think there will ever be a closure.”
Syrian Democratic Forces captured Elsheikh in 2018 when he and his co-conspirator, Alexandra Amon Kotey, 38, tried to flee to Turkey. They are calculated in October 2020.
Kotey pleaded guilty to all federal charges against him in September 2021 and will be sentenced on April 29. According to the DOJ, he faces a life sentence.
Elsheikh faces the same verdict and his hearing is scheduled for August 12.
[Images via YouTube screegrabs, Image of James Foley via Law&Crime Network.]
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https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/federal-jury-convicts-member-of-isis-beatles-who-played-key-role-in-deaths-of-four-american-hostages/ El Shafee Elsheikh convicted by IS of killing US hostages