A jury convicted Elsheikh, now 34, in April of conspiracy costs within the kidnapping and homicide of 4 Individuals — journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and humanitarian employees Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller — in addition to terrorism costs within the deaths of British residents David Haines and Alan Henning and Japanese residents Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa.
Elsheikh was sentenced on the eighth anniversary of Foley’s beheading in an emotional listening to in Alexandria, Va., federal court docket. The decide and other people within the courtroom choked up as a prosecutor learn from letters the victims had written for his or her households, together with a letter from Mueller to her household wherein she reaffirmed her religion and stated she was assured they might meet once more.
Alexanda Kotey, one other member of the group who was captured with Elsheikh in 2018, pleaded responsible in 2021 and was sentenced this 12 months to life in jail. The third member of the “Beatles,” Mohammed Emwazi, who was the masked executioner on the Islamic State’s chilling propaganda movies, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2015.
At trial, Elsheikh’s defense team denied that he was a member of the “Beatles” or that he had any position within the torture and execution of hostages, calling him a “easy ISIS fighter.” However Elsheikh had given a sequence of interviews to journalists detailing his position beating prisoners, extracting private data from them and in search of ransoms from their households.
First Assistant U.S. Lawyer Raj Parekh of the Jap District of Virginia, who has prosecuted a number of Islamic State members dropped at the US, recounted how 35 trial witnesses gave testimony that Elsheikh, Emwazi and Kotey would strike hostages in “the meat of the muscle” to maximise their ache. They waterboarded and starved prisoners, prevented them from utilizing the restroom, and made them stand all night time. They usually pressured hostages to memorize the lyrics to a tune known as “Lodge Osama,” a parody of “Lodge California” with a play on how the victims would “by no means go away.”
Mueller was turned over to a senior member of the terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf, and sexually abused by the chief of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, witnesses stated. The British and U.S. governments refused to pay ransoms for hostages. Foley, Kassig and Sotloff have been beheaded on notorious propaganda movies.
“These sequence of crimes are as grave, as sadistic and as reprehensible because it will get,” Parekh stated. “To paraphrase a line in Dante’s Inferno, we lack the vocabulary of such ache.”
Parekh added that “Elsheikh stays defiantly remorseless and unrepentant” and “is the highest-ranking and most infamous ISIS member to have ever confronted trial in the US.”
U.S. District Decide T.S. Ellis III known as Elsheikh’s and Kotey’s conduct “horrific, barbaric, brutal, callous — and naturally, felony.”
The decide sentenced Elsheikh, who was born in Sudan, raised in Britain, and later stripped of his British citizenship, to eight concurrent life sentences. Ellis discovered that Elsheikh knew or might have moderately foreseen that Mueller can be sexually abused by different members of the Islamic State; that Elsheikh made false statements to the court docket when he claimed the FBI lured him into chatting with regulation enforcement with out an lawyer; and that Elsheikh was a frontrunner within the hostage-taking conspiracy.
Ellis stated he couldn’t impose a demise sentence on Elsheikh as a result of prosecutors had not requested it. Elsheikh’s mom, who lives in Britain, had sued to prevent the British government from sharing evidence with U.S. prosecutors. The American victims’ households efficiently pushed for the Trump administration to forgo in search of the demise penalty to safe assist for the prosecution from Britain.
As a result of he agreed to plead responsible, Kotey could petition to serve the remainder of his life sentence in Britain after 15 years in a U.S. jail. Elsheikh selected to go to trial and should serve his complete life sentence in the US.
Protection attorneys known as Elsheikh a “mannequin prisoner” since he was taken into U.S. custody and requested that the decide advocate in opposition to inserting him within the Supermax federal jail in Florence, Colo., the place inmates are held in isolation and allowed just one hour of exercise per day. The decide declined and stated the Federal Bureau of Prisons would resolve the place to position Elsheikh.
Foley was a teacher-turned-journalist from New Hampshire. Sotloff was an skilled journalist from Florida protecting the Center East. Kassig was a former Military ranger from Indiana who traveled to Syria to arrange a volunteer group. Mueller was a humanitarian-aid employee from Arizona whose stays haven’t been situated. Her dad and mom stated after the sentencing they’re nonetheless looking for her.
“These courageous Individuals noticed the struggling of the Syrian individuals and determined to assist,” Foley’s mom, Diane Foley, stated after the sentencing.
On the listening to, Diane Foley informed Elsheikh, “James would need you to know that you simply didn’t win.”
Breaking into tears, she stated her son’s instance of service and compassion lived on in his household and supporters worldwide.
“James Wright Foley lives on,” she informed Elsheikh.