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Photo: Samuel Corum via Getty Images

An ISIS militant pleaded guilty Thursday to all charges related to his participation in a "brutal" scheme to capture, torture and ultimately behead hostages in Syria, including four Americans, the Justice Department said Thursday.

Why it matters: Alexanda Amon Kotey, a former British citizen who was part of an ISIS cell dubbed "The Beatles," is among those responsible for the 2014 executions of American journalist James Foley and other hostages, according to the DOJ.

  • Kotey supervised ISIS' jails and, with other ISIS members, engaged in a "prolonged pattern" of physical and psychological violence against the hostages, which often ended with public beheadings that were videotaped and uploaded online.

Details: Kotey's actions, which included forcing hostages to witness other hostages' murders, were part of an effort to compel the U.S. government and victims' family members to pay ransoms for their release, according to the DOJ.

    • The four Americans in his custody were Foley, Kayla Jean Mueller, Steven Joel Sotloff and Peter Edward Kassig. They all died as ISIS hostages.
    • Video of Foley's beheading spurred widespread public rebuke of the militant group, and helped galvanize support for the U.S. campaign to destroy ISIS.
  • The Syrian Democratic Forces captured Kotey and an alleged co-conspirator in January 2018 as they were attempting an escape to Turkey. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison and is scheduled for sentencing on March 4, 2022.

What they're saying: "This guilty plea ensures that Kotey will spend the rest of his life in prison for the horrific crimes he has committed," Mark J. Lesko, acting assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s National Security Division, said in a statement.

  • "Although there remains much work to be done in this case, we hope today’s events provide some measure of justice for Kotey’s victims and their families as they continue to grieve the loss of their loved ones."

Go deeper

Updated Oct 8, 2021 - World

Suicide bombing at Shiite mosque in Afghanistan kills dozens

Taliban fighters investigate following the attack in Kunduz. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

A suicide bombing inside a Shiite mosque in northern Afghanistan on Friday killed more than 45 people and wounded dozens of others, AP reports.

Driving the news: ISIS-K, an Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the blast, which took place as people gathered for Friday noon prayers at the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque in the city of Kunduz, per AP. It's the highest death toll in an attack since U.S. and NATO troops withdrew from the country in August.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
42 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."