Islamic State Beatle sentenced to life in prison for plotting to kill hostages

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member of the so-called Islamic State terror cell known as the Beatles was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of his role in the killing of American hostages in Syria.

El Shafi Elsheikh, 34, who grew up in London, showed no emotion as Judge Thomas Selby Ellis handed down his sentence in the District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, as family members of his victims looked on.

Elsheikh received life sentences on each of the eight charges he was convicted of in April, which must run concurrently.

Addressing the jihadist, Judge Ellis said: “The conduct of this defendant and his co-accused can only be described as appallingly barbaric, brutal and callous.

“This is an important episode in the history of our country and our justice system.

Elsheikh sat in the courtroom wearing a green prison-style jumpsuit, white trainers and a black face covering and wearing glasses.

At times he appeared to turn his head to those reading his victim impact statements.

Judge Thomas Selby Ellis must give the jihadist a chance to speak before sentencing him.

Elsheikh was one of a gang of four IS fighters nicknamed the Beatles because of their British accents.

The cell is said to be composed of ringleader Mohammed Emuazi, known as Jihadi John; Aine Davies; Alexandra Kotey and Elsheikh.

Cotey was given a life sentence by Mr Justice Selby at the same court in April.

Diane Foley, mother of American journalist James Foley, who was held hostage by the group, told Elsheikh in court that “your hatred has overcome your humanity”.

“This trial has exposed the appalling human rights crimes you committed while part of Isis,” she said, addressing him directly in her victim impact statement.

“Your hatred has overcome your humanity.

“You were held accountable for your depravity that (and) … you will spend the rest of your life in prison, but you have also lost.

“You lost your citizenship, your country… your family.”

Mrs Foley continued: “Knowing Jim, my suffering and that of our family would have caused Jim the deepest pain.

“(But) Jim was saying ‘Elsheikh, you didn’t kill me. I live in my family and friends and their friends.

“I live on in those who have lived through your inhumanity. I am alive in all those who strive for moral courage.

“In many ways, I’m more alive than I’ve ever been.”

Addressing Elsheikh again, Ms. Foley added: “I am sorry that you have chosen hate and succumbed to false theology.

“I pray that your time in prison will give you time to think … and even to correct your mistake.

“The God I believe in will forgive you.”

Elsheikh chose not to speak before Judge Ellis handed down the life sentences.

However, he has already made it clear that he plans to appeal the sentence and will replace his legal team.

In April, Elsheich was convicted on eight counts related to four American hostages, James Foley, Stephen Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. The three Americans were executed by beheading posted online. Ms Mueller was enslaved and repeatedly raped by Islamic State leader Bakr al-Baghdadi before she was killed.

Commander Richard Smith, who led the Met’s Counter-Terrorism Command, which helped US law enforcement bring the case, said after the verdict: “This is one of the most significant international terrorism cases ever to come to court. These were some of the most barbaric acts of terrorism ever seen, carried out with chilling callousness and brutality.

“This is a time to remember all the victims – those innocent people who were senselessly killed, as well as the surviving hostages who endured unimaginable horrors at the hands of El Shafi Elsheikh and his co-accused, Aleksanda Kotey. They showed remarkable fortitude and bravery in their account of what happened to investigators and in court.

“I hope that those most affected can take comfort in knowing that these extremely dangerous men have been brought to justice.”

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