Two British nationals who joined ISIS in Syria will appear in federal court today, charged with the murder of four American citizens.
The pair had been linked to the kidnapping and torturous killings of American aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller and journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley. Other hostages dubbed the two terrorists and two others “The Beatles” because of their British accents.
They had been held in military custody in Iraq and then transferred to the U.S.
In a statement, relatives of Mueller, Foley, Sotloff, and Kassig said the transfer “will be the first step in the pursuit of justice for the alleged horrific human rights crimes against these four young Americans.”
The Justice Department announced the charges on Wednesday morning. They include conspiracy to commit hostage-taking, resulting in death; four counts of hostage-taking resulting in death for Foley, Mueller, Sotloff and Kassig; conspiracy to murder United States citizens outside of the United States; conspiracy to provide material support or resources to terrorists – hostage-taking and murder – resulting in death; and conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, resulting in death.
Naturally, the families were overjoyed at developments in the case.
We want to express our deep gratitude to all who have worked tirelessly to bring Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, the two detainees currently in U.S. military custody in Iraq, to face trial in the U.S. We are grateful for the work and dedication of Ali Soufan and his team at The Soufan Group for this result. We welcomed the United Kingdom’s recent Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for this development and are particularly grateful to Attorney General William Barr and the U.S. Justice Department, whose decision to waive the death penalty against these former British citizens allowed the U.K. to be able to share critical evidence with the U.S in the prosecution of these men.
Kotey and ElSheikh’s extradition and trial in the United States will be the first step in the pursuit of justice for the alleged horrific human rights crimes against these four young Americans, who saw the suffering of the Syrian people and wanted to help, whether by providing humanitarian aid or by telling the world about the evolving Syrian crisis.
The sadistic treatment of the hostages and their subsequent horrific deaths should have warranted the death penalty.
The 26-page indictment describes the horrific treatment of the hostage victims – which included, among other acts, the forced witnessing of murders, mock executions, shock by electric Tasers, waterboarding or threats of it, and beatings – and their ransom demands that were sent to the victims’ families.
Unfortunately, British law would have prevented cooperation with the U.S. Justice Department if the death penalty was in play. Attorney General Barr took what he could get and removed the death penalty from the table in order to build a solid case against the terrorists.
“Justice” is a subjective term. If it were my child, there’s not going to be much “justice” in sending the terrorists away to prison for the rest of their lives to be treated relatively humanely.
When the U.S. forgoes applying the death penalty in a case involving such cruelty and barbarism, you have to ask if this makes us ‘better” than them.
I guarantee the terrorists don’t think so.