US conviction of ISIS 'Beatle' welcomed by UK victim's relatives

Daughter of aid worker says she was happy at the trial’s conclusion

Brothers Mike, right, and David Haines in the late 1990s. Family photo

Relatives of David Haines, the British aid worker killed by the ISIS cell El Shafee Elsheikh belonged to, have spoken of their relief after his conviction in the US on murder and terrorism charges.

David Haines's brother welcomed the conviction of one of their members, saying: “An eight-year chapter of pain for my family has finally come to an end.”

“While nothing can truly compensate for the hole David's murder left in our hearts, the verdict provides us with some closure and ensures that all three surviving members of the gang involved in my brother's murder have now faced justice,” Mike Haines said.

The victim's daughter, Bethany Haines, said she was happy at the trial’s conclusion.

Elsheikh was convicted on eight counts over the deaths of four American hostages: James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.

In convicting Elsheikh, the jury concluded he was one of the notorious "ISIS Beatles", nicknamed for their accents and known for their cruelty, including torturing and beating prisoners, forcing them to fight each other until they collapsed and making them sing cruel song parodies.

El Shafee el-Sheikh poses for a photo in an undisclosed location. AFP

Surviving hostages testified that the “Beatles” delighted themselves by rewriting the song Hotel California as Hotel Osama and making them sing the refrain “You will never leave”.

“My brother and the many other innocent lives taken by this terrorist organisation were never afforded justice,” Mr Haines said.

“This unanimous judgment is a triumph for society over ills like terrorism and helps differentiate us from the hateful, divisive ideologies that fuel these individuals.

“It must also act as a warning to anyone else seduced by the false glamour of extremism.”

Ms Haines said the conclusion of the trial was “a lot more emotional” than she expected.

Bethany Haines, the daughter of David Haines. AFP

“It was a lot more emotional than I expected. I expected to be happy, excited, but it's the realisation that he's guilty, what he's done to all the families, all the hostages,” she said.

“I've not slept a full night's sleep probably since my dad was killed in 2014 so hopefully tonight I'll get a full night's sleep.” Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, a member of the Beatle cell who pleaded guilty last year, will be sentenced later this month.

Mr Haines’s death did not form part of the indictment against Elsheikh because the court was focused only on US victims. Elsheikh and Kotey may yet face court in the UK for the deaths of British citizens.

Mr Haines, who runs education charity Global Acts of Unity in honour of his brother, who died aged 44, said he plans to attend the sentencing hearing.

Updated: April 15, 2022, 1:36 PM
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