Aug 19, 2022 - World

British member of ISIS cell receives life sentence for death of Americans

Members of the media await the sentencing of El Shafee Elsheikh.
Members of the media await the sentencing of El Shafee Elsheikh. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

British national El Shafee Elsheikh has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in helping an ISIS cell kidnap, torture and kill prisoners, the Department of Justice said Friday.

The big picture: Elsheikh — who had the nickname "Beatle" — is the most notorious and highest-ranking member of the Islamic State group to ever be convicted in a U.S. Court, the DOJ said.

Catch up quick: Elsheikh was found guilty on all charges related to his ISIS membership last April, Axios' Ivana Saric reports.

  • He was a member of a cell called "the Beatles," which were believed to have been responsible for the deaths of American and British hostages.
  • The group beheaded 27 hostages, U.S. officials said, per BBC News.

Driving the news: Elsheikh received a life sentence Friday for each of the eight counts that he was previously convicted of in his connection to a scheme that led to the death of American, British and Japanese nationals.

  • The convictions were connected to the death of four American hostages James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.

Zoom in: Elsheikh and two other ISIS members supervised the jails and detention sites where the hostages were held, according to the DOJ.

  • The hostages were subjected to "a prolonged pattern of physical and psychological violence against hostages that was meant as an effort to subdue the hostages," the DOJ said.
  • ISIS hoped to use these actions "to compel the victims’ family members and their governments to pay large monetary ransoms for their release," per the DOJ.
  • ISIS also released videos of the executions of American, British and Japanese nationals.

What they're saying: “Their efforts over many years of investigating and prosecuting the ISIS Beatles are emblematic of the best of the Department of Justice, and truly our country, has to offer in pursuing justice in the face of terrorism," said U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber in a statement.

  • "I am also deeply appreciative of the efforts of the victims’ families in this case. Without their commitment, this case never would have made it to our courthouse and we would not have the result we have today.”
  • "With today’s verdict, we finally have a bit of justice," said Diane Foley, James Foley's mother, at a press conference, per NBC News.
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