Alexanda Kotey, 38, was a part of a brutal Islamic State cell generally known as the Beatles that kidnapped and tortured Western hostages in Syria.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A federal decide on Friday sentenced a British terrorist to life in jail for his central function within the kidnap, torture and killing of Western hostages who have been held by the Islamic State in Syria.
Alexanda Kotey, 38, was a part of a brutal ISIS cell of Britons known as the Beatles, a nickname given by their victims due to their accents. Mr. Kotey pleaded guilty final 12 months to a number of fees that assured he would spend the remainder of his life behind bars.
Mr. Kotey admitted he was straight concerned within the detention and hostage-taking of 4 People in 2012 and 2013, all of whom had traveled to Syria as journalists or to supply humanitarian help and died in Islamic State custody: James Foley, Kayla Mueller, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig. Mr. Foley and Mr. Sotloff have been beheaded in grotesque propaganda movies that surprised the world.
The executioner of the group, Mohammed Emwazi, also referred to as Jihadi John, was killed in an airstrike in Syria in 2015.
Through the sentencing on Friday, British and American households learn statements describing their shattered lives. Mr. Kotey sat quietly and listened to oldsters and siblings recount their horror earlier than and after the deaths of their family members.
“We’re endlessly damaged by the lack of our beloved son,” stated Shirley Sotloff, whose son was executed within the Syrian desert in September 2014. “Open your eyes, please, and have a look at me. You destroyed our lives and we hope for the remainder of your lives you’ll take into consideration what you’ve carried out, and to your households as properly.”
After the households, together with a pair of Syrian detainees who had been captured with two of the People and later freed, concluded their feedback, Choose T.S. Ellis III of the Federal District Court docket praised the useless hostages, saying that they had ethical braveness and compassion.
He stated the prosecution of Mr. Kotey was not revenge however the seek for fact, describing Mr. Kotey’s conduct as “egregious, violent and inhumane.”
Choose Ellis sentenced Mr. Kotey to eight life sentences, that are to run on the identical time and will land him at a high-security jail in Florence, Colo., known as the supermax. Mr. Kotey’s legal professionals had requested the decide to suggest sending Mr. Kotey to a jail with much less extreme restrictions, however he declined.
Mr. Kotey declined to remark, as an alternative referring to a lengthy letter he had filed with the court docket. The letter describes at instances feeling sympathy for his captives, however such sentiments, he wrote, have been “usually temporary and momentary.” He known as himself a soldier finishing up orders and utilizing harsh techniques that have been essential to battle america as a part of asymmetrical warfare.
Whereas Mr. Kotey stated within the letter that he took duty for his actions and that his personal seize and detention had led to reflection, he didn’t apologize for his crimes, writing that he was “barely reluctant to make use of such phrases like regret.”
As a part of his plea deal, Mr. Kotey agreed to satisfy with the households of the useless hostages and share data with F.B.I. brokers and prosecutors, a course of that has already began. If he fulfills his cooperation necessities, Mr. Kotey could possibly be despatched to Britain after 15 years to finish the rest of his life sentence.
Earlier this month, a jury swiftly convicted El Shafee Elsheikh, 33, one other Islamic State militant believed to be a member of the Beatles, on 4 counts of hostage-taking and 4 counts of conspiracy associated to the deaths of the People.
At Mr. Elsheikh’s trial, Raj Parekh, the primary assistant U.S. lawyer, stated Mr. Kotey and Mr. Elsheikh have been terrorists and brothers in arms who reveled in sadism and have been deeply tied to the kidnapping scheme.
“The proof demonstrates that they grew up collectively, radicalized collectively, fought as high-ranking ISIS fighters collectively, held hostages collectively, tortured and terrorized hostages collectively,” Mr. Parekh stated. “And after Emwazi was killed, Elsheikh and Kotey have been in the end captured in Syria collectively.”
Prosecutors recounted how the hostages had been overwhelmed and waterboarded and endured mock executions. One Danish hostage was hit 25 instances in his ribs on his 25th birthday, Mr. Parekh stated. Some have been freed after ransoms have been paid.
Mr. Elsheikh, who determined to not strike a cope with prosecutors, is scheduled to be sentenced in August. The decide within the case had ordered him to be within the courtroom on Friday, and he stated nothing on the listening to, sitting immobile subsequent to his legal professionals and never removed from Mr. Kotey.
Mr. Kotey and Mr. Elsheikh have been captured in Syria by a Kurdish-backed militia in 2018 as they fled to Turkey.
The prosecutions of Mr. Kotey and Mr. Elsheikh weren’t at all times a certainty as a result of the British authorities declined to supply essential proof for a trial if the Justice Division insisted on with the ability to search the dying penalty within the instances.
Ultimately, William P. Barr, the lawyer normal on the time, decided to rule out the death penalty, paving the best way for his or her prosecutions in federal court docket in Alexandria, Va.
The result within the instances bolstered the argument that civilian courts have been simpler than army tribunals in attempting terrorists.
Carl Mueller, the daddy of Kayla Mueller, advised the court docket that he had misplaced religion in God and his authorities after his daughter, a humanitarian employee from Arizona in her 20s, was kidnapped after which raped repeatedly by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the slain chief of the Islamic State. Ms. Mueller was probably killed by the Islamic State in February 2015 after about 18 months of captivity.
Mr. Kotey and Mr. Elsheikh have been “cowards,” Mr. Mueller stated, including that watching the trial had “restored my religion within the authorities.”