Alleged Islamic State militants known as ‘Beatles’ headed to U.S. to face charges

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two alleged Islamic State militants known as the ‘Beatles’ will arrive in the United States on Wednesday to face trial on U.S. charges for their alleged involvement in beheadings of Western hostages, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

The alleged militants, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, have been in U.S. military custody abroad since they were captured in 2019. They were UK citizens but the British government withdrew their citizenship.

The pair are suspected of membership in a four-strong Islamic State cell known as the ‘Beatles’ because they were English speakers. The group is alleged to have detained or killed Western hostages in Syria, including U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig.

“These charges are the product of many years of hard work in pursuit of justice for our citizens slain by ISIS. Although we cannot bring them back, we can and will seek justice for them, their families, and for all Americans,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement.

In August, Barr said that if Britain granted a mutual legal assistance request for evidence regarding Kotey and Elsheikh, U.S. prosecutors would not seek the death penalty in any cases against them and would not carry out executions if they were imposed.

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