El Shafee Elsheikh, a notorious member of the Islamic State group, was sentenced to life in prison for the beheading deaths of American hostages.
He is the most notorious and highest-ranking member of the Islamic State group ever to be convicted in a U.S. court, prosecutors said at his sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
Elsheikh led an Islamic State hostage-taking scheme that took roughly two dozen Westerners captive a decade ago. Four American hostages were killed, and one was forced into slavery and raped multiple times before she was killed.
The victims of Elsheikh testified at Friday’s hearing and gave voice to what they experienced. Daniel Rye Ottosen, who was released after a ransom was paid, said the worst moments were times of silence during and after the captivity.
Another victim of beheading was James Foley. James Foley’s mother said holding Elsheikh accountable sends a message of deterrence to other would-be hostage takers. “Hatred truly overwhelmed your humanity,” she told Elsheikh on Friday, the eighth anniversary of James Foley’s beheading.
Elsheikh’s lawyer argued that his confessions should have been ruled inadmissible because of alleged mistreatment after he was captured by Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Forces in 2018. The judge declined to make any recommendation to the Bureau of Prisons.
Outside court, Kayla Mueller’s parents said they are still seeking information about her death and to recover her remains. Carl Mueller said he hoped the U.S. government would help. Kayla Mueller was an international aid worker who was captured and forced into sexual slavery by her captors before they murdered her.
For more on this story, please consider these sources:
- Islamic State ‘Beatle’ gets life term for US hostage deaths The Associated Press
- Member of ‘ISIS Beatles’ given eight life sentences for role in hostage-taking, killing of Americans CNN
- LIVE: Islamic State cell member sentenced to life for hostage beheadings Reuters
- ISIS ‘Beatle’ member gets life in prison for torture, ransom of US hostages Fox News
- Elshafee El Sheikh: Ex-Briton ‘Isis Beatle’ sentenced to life in prison BBC