Alexandria, VA – Al Shafi Elsheikh, who was formally sentenced to life in jail on Friday for his main position within the beheading of American hostages, had a considerably cynical nickname because the so-called “Beetle”, which is understood for his conduct. He believed in evil.
He’s, the truth is, essentially the most infamous and highest-ranking member of the Islamic State group to have been convicted in a US court docket, prosecutors stated throughout a listening to on his sentencing in US District Court docket in Alexandria.
Elsheikh and British counterparts Alexandra Cote and Mohamed Emwazi led the plan to take the Islamic State hostage, which had taken almost two dozen Westerners captive a decade earlier. The hostages dubbed them The Beatles due to their accent. His presence, at all times in masks, aroused worry among the many hostages for the sadism he displayed.
“This prosecution uncovered the barbaric and brutal ISIS Beatles,” stated First Assistant US Legal professional Raj Parekh.
The life sentence was a foregone conclusion after a jury held him hostage and convicted him of different crimes earlier this 12 months.
The convicts carried a compulsory life sentence. The US agreed to not pursue the loss of life penalty as a part of a settlement that ensured the extradition of Elsheikh and his buddy, Cote, who’ve already been sentenced to life. Emwazi was killed in a drone strike.
The sentence revolves across the deaths of 4 American hostages: James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. Everybody besides Mueller was beheaded in a videotape that was circulated on-line. Muller was compelled into slavery and raped a number of occasions earlier than being executed by Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
They had been amongst 26 hostages taken between 2012 and 2015, when the Islamic State group managed massive areas of Iraq and Syria.
Parekh stated that it’s tough to explain the brutality of Elsheikh’s actions. “We lack the terminology of such ache,” he stated, paraphrasing Dante’s Inferno.
Nonetheless, Elsheikh and the Beatles’ victims testified at Friday’s listening to and voiced what they skilled. Danish photographer Daniel Rae Ottosson, who was launched after paying the ransom, stated the worst moments had been in the course of the captivity and after silence when he was alone together with his ideas.
He stated that when Elsheikh and the Beatles beat him, it was virtually a reduction.
“I knew I might solely give attention to my ache, which is far simpler than being alone along with your ideas,” he stated.
Ottoson was notably near Foley, and recalled a goodbye letter that Foley had written to his household in order that he might direct it to Foley’s mother and father upon launch.
Foley’s mom, Diane Foley, stated that holding Elsheikh accountable at trial sends a message of detention to the opposite hostages.
“The hate actually overwhelmed your humanity,” she instructed Elsheikh on Friday, the eighth anniversary of the beheading of James Foley.
At trial, the surviving hostages testified that they feared the presence of the Beatles in varied prisons, the place they had been consistently imprisoned and transferred. Elsheikh and the opposite Beatles performed a key position in hostage negotiations, getting hostages to e mail their households with calls for for cost.
They beat and tortured hostages commonly, forcing them to battle with one another, threatening them to board the water and forcing them to have a look at photos of slain hostages.
Elsheikh, 34, didn’t converse throughout Friday’s listening to. His lawyer, Zachary Debler, stated Elsheikh would attraction towards his sentence. Elsheikh’s attorneys argued that his confession ought to have been thought of unacceptable due to alleged abuse after he was captured by Kurdish-led Syrian protection forces in 2018.
At Friday’s listening to, Dubler narrowed down his arguments to a request that Elschech not be despatched to the Supermax jail facility in Florence, Colorado, the place he would face a lifetime of solitary confinement. Debler stated a designation for Florence is sort of sure except the decide recommends in any other case.
Choose TS Ellis III declined to make any advice to the Bureau of Prisons.
“The conduct of this defendant and his co-defendant can solely be described as horrific, barbaric, merciless, harsh and positively felony,” Ellis stated.
Outdoors the courtroom, Mueller’s mother and father stated they had been nonetheless searching for details about his loss of life and the restoration of his stays. Karl Müller stated he could not assist however mirror on the disproportionate penalties for European hostages – who had been launched after the ransom was paid – and American hostages who had been refused ransom by the US.
“Hopefully in future our authorities will do as many others do, and take them dwelling, not depart them,” he stated.
Each Mueller and Diane Foley stated they’ve been capable of meet Cote, whose responsible plea requires him to fulfill households. Marsha Muller declined to touch upon their dialog.
Diane Foley stated that she met Cote three totally different occasions, and it was useful for her.
“I used to be capable of share a few of who Jim was and he was capable of share a few of why he felt it was a warfare scenario and his excuses,” Foley stated. “However he expressed some regret and I’m grateful for that.”
Video journalist Nathan Elgren contributed to this report.