A MEMBER of the heinous IS Beatles cell that abducted, tortured, and beheaded Western victims was today sentenced to life in prison.
El Shafee Elsheikh, an ex-British citizen, was found guilty in April of fatal hostage-taking and conspiracy to murder.
He was a member of the vicious hostage-taking group that executed three Americans, two British humanitarian workers, and two Japanese men in Syria by beheading them.
Elsheikh will spend the rest of his life behind bars after US District Court judge TS Ellis handed down eight concurrent life sentences to him today in a Virginia court.
The jury found that Elsheikh was a member of an Islamic State cell that executed American prisoners in Iraq and Syria. The group was known as “The Beatles” because of its members’ English accents. The trial lasted six weeks in April, and the jury deliberated for hours.
“The behavior of this defendant can only be defined as terrible, savage, brutal, and of course criminal,” Ellis told the court.
He belonged to the cruel hostage-takers who beheaded two Japanese men, three Americans, two British aid workers, and two British hostages in Syria.
Elsheikh was given eight concurrent life sentences by US District Court judge TS Ellis today in a Virginia court, meaning he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Elsheikh was identified by the jury as being a part of an Islamic State cell that beheaded American detainees in Iraq and Syria. Because of the English accents of its members, the group became known as “The Beatles.” The jury deliberated for hours during the six-week trial that took place in April.
Ellis told the jury, “This defendant’s conduct can only be described as horrific, vicious, violent, and of course criminal.”
Prior to her death in Syria, Mueller was allegedly regularly raped by the group’s leader at the time, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
While Mueller’s death was confirmed in the early months of 2015, the deaths of Foley, Sotloff, and Kassig were confirmed in 2014.
Elsheikh made an attempt to defend himself by claiming he was “just a simple ISIS fighter” and not a member of the group, but the jury flatly rejected this.
Diane Foley, Foley’s mother, said after the sentence was handed down: “Let this sentencing make clear to all who dare kidnap, torture, or kill any American citizen abroad that US justice will find you wherever you are, and that our government will hold you accountable for your crimes against our citizens.”
Elsheikh’s British citizenship was revoked in 2018, and the accusations against him contained a potential death sentence, but US prosecutors had previously informed British officials that they would not seek the death penalty.
The prosecution argued that a life sentence was necessary to stop Elsheikh from harming others in the future and to establish a precedent that such crimes will result in harsh punishment.
A US judge earlier this year gave life in prison to Alexanda Kotey, another member of the cell.
The US military detained Kotey in Iraq before flying him to the US to stand prosecution. He admitted guilt to the murders of Foley, Sotloff, Kassig, and Mueller last September.
In 2015, a US-British missile strike on Syria claimed the life of Mohammed Emwazi, a third member of the organization.
Several ex-hostages who were eventually freed by the cell after protracted negotiations gave testimony about the torture they experienced. Additionally testifying were the victims’ families.
Islamic State reigned over millions of people between 2014 and 2017 and either claimed responsibility for or served as the inspiration for assaults in dozens of locations around the globe.
Before being killed in a US special forces raid in Syria in 2019, as the group’s control was coming to an end, its leader, al-Baghdadi, declared a caliphate over a quarter of Iraq and Syria.