Washington: The US has indicted two Islamic State (IS) militants on charges related to their participation in a brutal hostage-taking scheme in Syria that resulted in the deaths of four American citizens, as well as a Briton and a Japanese national, the Justice Department said in a statement.
Wednesday, the two former UK nationals Alexanda Amon Kotey (36) and El Shafee Elsheikh (32) made appeared at a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, where the federal grand jury issued an eight-count indictment.
“These charges are the product of many years of hard work in pursuit of justice for our citizens slain by IS,” the Department statement quoted US Attorney General William Barr as saying.
“Our message to other terrorists around the world is this — if you harm Americans, you will face American arms on the battlefield or American law in our courtrooms. Either way, you will be pursue… until justice is done.”
According to allegations in the indictment, from 2012 to 2015, Kotey, Elsheikh, Mohamed Emwazi (deceased), and a fourth UK citizen currently incarcerated in Turkey, also allegedly engaged in a prolonged pattern of physical and psychological violence against the hostages, including American citizens James Wright Foley, Kayla Jean Mueller, Steven Joel Sotloff, and Peter Edward Kassig.
Due to their English accents, the four men were often referred to by hostages as “The Beatles”,
“Kotey and Elsheikh are alleged to have committed horrific crimes in support of IS, including hostage taking resulting in the deaths of four American citizens,” G. Zachary Terwilliger, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia said during Wednesday’s hearing.
“While we cannot return their loved ones or undo the pain that these families face each day, we can do everything possible to ensure that the defendants are held accountable for their alleged savage actions.”
From August 2014 through October 2014, the IS released videos depicting Emwazi’s barbaric beheadings of Foley, Sotloff, and British citizens David Haines and Alan Henning, the Justice Department statement said.
In November 2014, the terror group released a video depicting the decapitated head of Kassig.
In January 2015, it released videos with images of two dead Japanese citizens.
Addressing a press conference in Washington, D.C., FBI Director Christopher Wray said: “Today, we remember the victims, Jim Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller, and their families who are forever affected by these senseless acts of violence.
“Today’s charges demonstrate the FBI’s dedication and commitment to giving them the justice they deserve.
We, along with our partners in the US government, remain steadfast in our duty to bring to justice those who have harmed our citizens — no matter where they are, and no matter how long it takes.”