Member of notorious jihadi ‘Beatles’ cell convicted in US
A jury in Alexandria, Virginia found El Shafee Elsheikh guilty on Thursday of being part of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) cell that abducted and beheaded foreigners on camera. The group Elsheikh belonged to was dubbed ‘the Beatles’ by the hostages for their British accents. Elsheikh now faces a life sentence.
The jihadists’ crimes took place between 2014 and 2015, when IS conquered large swathes of eastern Syria and northern Iraq.
Prosecutors said Elsheikh was involved in the torture and deaths of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. The group’s other victims included British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, and Japanese journalists Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto. The men were beheaded by a masked executioner in the videos released by the extremists.
David Haines’ brother Mike described the conviction of Elsheikh as a “triumph for society over the ills of terrorism and extremism.”
Elsheikh was born in Sudan, but spent most of his life in the UK before traveling to Syria in order to join IS. He was captured by the US-backed Kurdish forces in 2018. The US agreed to waive the possible death penalty for Elsheikh in exchange for cooperation with Britain, which provided crucial evidence against the man. Another member of ‘the Beatles,’ Alexanda Kotey, pleaded guilty to the same charges as Elsheikh last year and also faces life in prison.