(PresidentialHill.com)- A member of the Islamic State kidnap-and-murder cell known as the “Beatles” will be punished in a U.S. court Friday for killing four American hostages in Syria.
El Shafee Elsheikh, 34, faces a mandatory life sentence after being convicted in Alexandria, Virginia, in April of hostage-taking, conspiracy to murder US people, and assisting a terrorist group.
The two-week trial of the former British national, which featured poignant evidence from former captives and parents of the deaths, was the most significant prosecution of an IS terrorist in the U.S.
The 12-person federal jury deliberated for less than six hours over two days before finding Elsheikh guilty for his role in the killings of four Americans — journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.
Elsheikh and another former “Beatle,” Alexanda Amon Kotey, were arrested by a Kurdish group in Syria in January 2018 and turned over to US forces in Iraq. They were flown to the US in 2020 to stand trial.
Kotey, 38, pled guilty in September 2021 and was sentenced to life in April by US District Court Judge T.S. Ellis, who will also sentence Elsheikh on Friday.
Aine Davis, 38, was returned to Britain last week from Turkey and placed in detention on terrorist accusations.
The fourth “Beatle,” executioner Mohammed Emwazi, was assassinated by a US drone in Syria in 2015.
The hostage-takers, who grew up and radicalized in London, were called the “Beatles” by their prisoners because of their British accents.
Active in Syria from 2012 to 2015, they are accused of abducting more than two dozen journalists and aid workers.
Ten former European and Syrian prisoners testified at Elsheikh’s trial, accusing the “Beatles” of months of cruel treatment involving beatings, electric shocks, waterboarding, and fake executions.
Emwazi beheaded Foley, Sotloff, and Kassig, and recordings of their executions were distributed by IS for propaganda.
Mueller was initially kept by the “Beatles” but then passed up to IS commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who reportedly raped her repeatedly.
IS announced Mueller’s death in February 2015. The group said she was murdered in a Jordanian airstrike, but the US disputes this.
Baghdadi died during a US special forces raid in 2019.
British police unveiled information Wednesday about the years-long attempt to identify the hostage-takers and bring them to prison.
Richard Smith, chief of London police’s counter-terrorism section, compared it to “fitting together a jigsaw” and tracing “breadcrumbs.”