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Alexanda Kotey, a former member of the Islamic State group, jailer and executioner of several Western hostages, was sentenced on Friday in the United States to life in prison. prosecutors have pledged to facilitate his transfer to the UK within 15 years.
One of the cruel “Beatles” of the Islamic State (IS), jihadists specializing in the capture, torture and execution of Western hostages, was sentenced on Friday April 29 to life imprisonment by a federal court in the United States.
Alexanda Kotey, a 38-year-old former British national, pleaded guilty in September, admitting responsibility for the deaths of four American hostages in Syria and, more broadly, for the abuse endured by their prisoners.
Another member of the “Beatles” cell, nicknamed by the hostages because of a British accent, El Shafee el-Sheikh, arrested with him by Syrian Kurdish forces in 2018, was found guilty in April by a jury popular, at the end of a trying trial which had exposed their sadism in broad daylight. His sentence will be handed down on August 12.
The two men, for whom the death penalty was excluded due to an agreement with London, were present on Friday in the court in Alexandria, near Washington, where the relatives of their victims were able to speak directly to them.
“You have kidnapped, tortured and participated in the murders of good and innocent people, and you will now have to live with that all your life”, notably launched the Briton Bethany Haines.
“You both lost!” Added the young woman, whose father David Haines, an aid worker, was beheaded by the third member of the “Beatles”, Mohammed Emwazi, killed by a drone attack in 2015.
The three jihadists grew up and became radicalized in London. Active in Syria from 2012 to 2015, they oversaw the detention of at least 27 journalists and aid workers from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Denmark , Sweden, Belgium, Japan, New Zealand and Russia.
A dozen were executed and their deaths were staged in IS propaganda videos that shocked the world.
Among their victims was the American journalist Steven Sotloff. On Friday, her mother Shirley repeatedly urged the two jihadists to “look her in (the) eyes”, as she described the “unimaginable impact” of their actions on her family.
“Steven’s death was like a horror movie broadcast live around the world (…) For our family, it does not take place on a screen but in our heads, every day”, they told she explained, hoping they “think about it every day for the rest of their lives.”
Transfer to UK?
Marsha Mueller, whose daughter Kayla died in confused circumstances after being the sex slave of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, wanted them to help her understand what happened to her daughter.
“We learned some things, stories of rape, beatings, terror and horror. But I want to know the whole truth, even if it’s hard to hear (…) I need to live these horrors with her”.
Alexanda Kotey did not speak or show any emotion as Judge TS Ellis handed down her sentence. His lawyers, however, assured that he was remorseful and agreed to meet the families of his victims.
The judge allowed him to remain in custody in Alexandria until July, to give the authorities and his lawyers time to negotiate the prison where he will serve his sentence. He recalled that as part of the plea bargain, prosecutors had pledged to facilitate his transfer to the UK within 15 years.