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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.

Pelosi announces bid for re-election ahead of 2022 midterms

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her bid for re-election Tuesday, amid a deluge of other safe-seat Democrats announcing their retirements.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s announcement follows months of speculation — despite her denials — that she was preparing to leave Congress.

Scoop: Qatar emir to visit White House on Monday

The emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, leaves the White House after meeting President Trump in 2019. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The emir of Qatar will meet with President Biden at the White House on Monday to discuss Afghanistan as well as contingency plans to provide natural gas to Europe in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Europe's reliance on Russia for 40% of its natural gas is undermining Biden's attempts to coordinate "massive" sanctions to be imposed from both sides of the Atlantic if Russia invades. The White House wants Qatar to help ensure European countries can enforce tough sanctions without risking an energy crisis.