October 7, 2020

U.S. charges two Islamic State terrorists for killing U.S. hostages

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that it would press charges against two Islamic State terrorists of British origin for their part in the killing of American, British, and Japanese hostages in Syria.

Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, both former British citizens, are expected to appear at a federal courthouse in Virginia Wednesday afternoon, according to the statement. They have been indicted on eight counts.

“These charges are the product of many years of hard work in pursuit of justice for our citizens slain by ISIS. Although we cannot bring them back, we can and will seek justice for them, their families, and for all Americans,” said Attorney General William Barr in a statement Wednesday. “Our message to other terrorists around the world is this — if you harm Americans, you will face American arms on the battlefield or American law in our courtrooms. Either way, you will be pursued to the ends of the earth until justice is done.”

At the hands of these terrorists and their collaborators, hostages from many countries faced “a prolonged pattern of physical and psychological violence” and were subsequently murdered, often by beheading, according to the statement. The U.S. citizens murdered alongside these hostages include James Wright Foley, Kayla Jean Mueller, Steven Joel Sotloff, and Peter Edward Kassig.

FBI Director Christopher Wray had some stern words for the terrorists and took a moment to honor the families of the murdered American hostages.

“Today, we remember the victims, Jim Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller, and their families who are forever affected by these senseless acts of violence,” said Wray. “These families have suffered with the painful loss of their loved ones at the hands of brutal killers; today’s charges demonstrate the FBI’s dedication and commitment to giving them the justice they deserve.”

“We, along with our partners in the U.S. Government,” Wray added, “remain steadfast in our duty to bring to justice those who have harmed our citizens — no matter where they are, and no matter how long it takes. I’m grateful to the men and women of the FBI, the victims’ families, and our domestic and international partners, for their tireless efforts to bring us to where we stand today with the prosecution of these men on U.S. soil.”

The two terrorists operated with two other British nationals. One of these other two, Mohamed Emwazi, is deceased and the other, whom the statement doesn’t name, is presently incarcerated in Turkey. The four were nicknamed “The Beatles” by their hostages for their British accents.

Kotey and Elsheikh, while attempting an escape from Syria into neighboring Turkey, were captured by Syrian Democratic Forces in January 2018.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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