Member of ISIS ‘Beatles’ Cell Pleads Guilty in Hostage Cases

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Alexanda Kotey admitted that helium played a cardinal portion successful American prisoners’ kidnapping, detention and hostage negotiations. Some of the hostages were beheaded.

Alexanda Kotey, left, was captured on  with El Shafee Elsheikh, different  subordinate   of the Islamic State compartment  known arsenic  “the Beatles,” successful  Syria successful  2018.
Credit...Hussein Malla/Associated Press

Adam Goldman

Sept. 2, 2021, 9:43 p.m. ET

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A subordinate of a notorious compartment of 4 British Islamic State members who tortured Western hostages pleaded blameworthy connected Thursday successful a national courtroom filled with household members of the group’s American victims, immoderate of whom were beheaded for propaganda videos seen astir the world.

Alexanda Kotey, 37, was portion of an ISIS compartment of 4 Britons called “the Beatles” — a nickname fixed by their victims due to the fact that of their accents — and known for their utmost brutality.

The radical kidnapped and abused much than 2 twelve hostages, including the American journalists James Foley and Steven J. Sotloff successful 2014, some of whom were beheaded successful propaganda videos. Another 2 Americans were besides killed: Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.

As families of each 4 victims sat silently successful the courtroom connected Thursday, Mr. Kotey recounted calmly and without emotion his crimes and his engagement successful the hostage-tasking schemes. He said helium knew what would hap to the hostages if their governments did not fulfill the ransom demands, which helium had emailed to the families.

Failure to comply, helium said, “would yet effect successful either indefinite detention of those overseas captives oregon their execution.”

He pleaded blameworthy to aggregate charges, including conspiracy to perpetrate hostage taking resulting successful decease and conspiracy to execution U.S. citizens extracurricular the United States. As portion of the plea deal, if Mr. Kotey fulfills his practice requirements, helium could beryllium sent to Britain aft 15 years to implicit the remainder of a mandatory beingness sentence.

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Alexanda Kotey Plea Agreement

Plea statement for Alexanda Kotey, who was portion of an ISIS compartment of 4 Britons called “the Beatles” that kidnapped dozens of hostages, including journalists James Foley and Steven J. Sotloff, some of whom were beheaded successful propaganda videos.

Read Document 15 pages

The British authorities would person to hold to judge Mr. Kotey, who would besides person to plead blameworthy to British crimes. He volition besides conscionable with the hostage families if they privation to talk with him, nether the agreement.

Mr. Kotey was captured successful Syria by a Kurdish-backed militia successful 2018, on with El Shafee Elsheikh arsenic they tried to fly to Turkey. Mr. Elsheikh, 33, has pleaded not blameworthy and has not struck a plea woody with prosecutors. Should Mr. Elsheikh determine to instrumentality his chances astatine trial, Mr. Kotey’s plea statement does not necessitate that helium attest against him.

The Trump medication engaged successful a lengthy statement implicit what to bash with the 2 men, weighing options similar turning them implicit to the Iraqis oregon taking them to the wartime situation astatine Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The families of the dormant hostages mounted a almighty public campaign to transportation the Trump medication to bring the brace to the United States to look national prosecution, weathering years of frustrations arsenic the Justice Department figured retired however to proceed.

Last year, aft William P. Barr, the lawyer wide astatine the time, cleared the mode for the British authorities to supply invaluable grounds for the prosecution, the 2 men were brought to Virginia to look charges earlier a civilian court.

The families declined to talk during the hearing, which was held connected the seventh day of Mr. Sotloff’s death. They mean to talk astatine Mr. Kotey’s sentencing proceeding successful March.

After the hearing, Diane Foley, the parent of James Foley, thanked the Justice Department and the F.B.I., adding, “This accountability is indispensable for anyone who kidnaps oregon unjustly detains Americans abroad, if our state wishes to ever deter hostage taking.”

The blameworthy plea besides marks a triumph for the U.S. attorney’s bureau successful Alexandria, which began investigating the kidnapping of Mr. Foley successful November 2012. Prosecutors successful the bureau pushed the lawsuit guardant contempt tremendous bureaucratic hurdles portion warring disconnected attempts by counterparts successful Manhattan to instrumentality implicit the high-profile matter.

In a statement, Raj Parekh, 1 of the prosecutors and present the acting U.S. attorney, described the Americans killed arsenic “pillars of courageousness and kindness connected the beforehand lines of a perilous conflict.”

“They risked their lives to radiance a airy connected the darkest corners of the globe and to assistance others astir successful need,” helium said.

He added that the attraction Mr. Kotey received successful the United States stood successful “stark opposition to the cruelty, inhumanity and indiscriminate unit touted by the violent enactment helium espoused.”

Prosecutors said Mr. Kotey participated successful the American prisoners’ “seizure, detention and hostage negotiations” and besides took portion successful hostage operations involving “British, Italian, Danish and German nationals, among others.”

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Alexanda Kotey Statement of Facts

Statement of Facts for Alexanda Kotey, who was portion of an ISIS compartment of 4 Britons called “the Beatles” that kidnapped dozens of hostages, including journalists James Foley and Steven J. Sotloff, some of whom were beheaded successful propaganda videos.

Read Document 13 pages

The hostages were abused severely successful Syria. They were subjected to waterboarding, mock executions, achy accent positions, nutrient deprivation, beatings with sticks, chokeholds causing blackouts and electrical shocks.

Their jailers forced the hostages to combat each different and to witnesser murders, the Justice Department has antecedently said. In immoderate cases, hostages were released aft ransoms were paid. The American hostages met gruesome deaths that rattled the Obama medication and forced the authorities to revamp the mode it dealt with the families of hostages. According to prosecutors, Mr. Kotey said the unit was portion of “controlling” the hostages.

Another subordinate of the compartment — Mohammed Emwazi, amended known arsenic Jihadi John — was killed successful an airstrike successful 2015 successful Syria. Mr. Emwazi was believed to person killed Mr. Foley and Mr. Sotloff, arsenic good arsenic Mr. Kassig, an assistance worker. Mr. Kotey said helium traveled to Syria successful August 2012 with Mr. Emwazi and archetypal joined a Qaeda offshoot, Al-Nusra Front, earlier switching to ISIS.

The 4th British subordinate of the group, Aine Davis, has been imprisoned successful Turkey connected coercion charges. Mr. Kotey’s practice would beryllium an important portion of immoderate effort to prosecute Mr. Davis if Turkey agreed to extradite him to the United States oregon Britain.

Mr. Kotey said helium was not contiguous erstwhile the Americans were beheaded connected video but was alert beforehand that ISIS intended to termination them. When helium begins providing accusation to the Americans, the British and different overseas governments, it is not wide if helium volition beryllium capable to supply immoderate reliable details astir wherever the Americans were buried oregon what happened to Ms. Mueller, a young pistillate from Arizona who was imprisoned with the different Americans and hostages.

Mr. Kotey’s defence lawyer, Sabrina P. Shroff, declined to comment.

Prosecutors accidental that by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the slain Islamic State leader, turned Ms. Mueller into a enactment slave. In aboriginal February 2015, the Islamic State announced that Ms. Mueller had died successful an airstrike and sent the Mueller household pictures of her lifeless body. She was moved from determination to determination successful the last months of her life.

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