Second ISIS Beatle sentenced to life in US prison for hostage killings

El Shafee Elsheikh was found guilty earlier this year for his involvement in kidnapping and killing American journalists and aid workers

British Islamic State (IS) group fighter El Shafee Elsheikh, posing for a mugshot. AFP
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The second "ISIS Beatle" was sentenced to life in prison in a US court on Friday for his role in kidnapping and killing American journalists and aid workers in Syria.

El Shafee Elsheikh, who was stripped of his British citizenship after becoming involved with the terror group, was found guilty earlier this year of participating in a scheme that resulted in the deaths of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid workers Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig.

Elsheikh was found guilty of all eight charges he faced “relating to his participation in a brutal hostage-taking scheme that resulted in the deaths of four American citizens, as well as the deaths of British and Japanese nationals, in Syria”, the US Justice Department said in a statement.

US District Judge TS Ellis sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday morning.

Foley’s mother read a victim impact statement in the Alexandria, Virginia, courtroom.

“Knowing Jim, my suffering and that of our family would have given Jim the deepest pain,” Ms Foley told the court room. “[But] Jim would say ‘Elsheikh, you did not kill me. I am alive in my family and friends and their friends.

“I live on in those who survived your inhumanity. I am alive in all those who aspire to moral courage.”

Ms Foley told Elsheikh: “I pity you for choosing hatred and for succumbing to a false theology.”

The group, whose victims called them the "Beatles" due to their English accents, was made up of ringleader Mohammed Emwazi, Aine Davis, Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey.

They are believed to have been responsible for the brutal killings of a number of western captives, including Britons Alan Henning and David Haines.

Emwazi was killed in a drone strike in Raqqa, Syria, in November 2015, while Elsheikh and Kotey were both arrested in 2018 by the Syrian Democratic Forces while trying to flee the crumbling caliphate.

El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey pose for mugshots in an undisclosed location. AFP

The US Department of Justice agreed to take the death penalty off the table for the two in exchange for the British government allowing them to be charged and tried in the US.

Kotey pleaded guilty to all eight charges and was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year. If he meets a certain set of criteria, after 15 years, he may be allowed to serve out the remainder of his sentence in the UK.

Davis spent seven years in a Turkish prison before returning to the UK, where he has since been arrested on terror charges.

This morning’s sentencing occurred on the eighth anniversary of Foley’s death.

Press Association contributed to this report

Updated: August 19, 2022, 6:01 PM