ALEXANDRIA, VA ( Associated Press) – A British national was sentenced Friday to life in prison for his role in the deaths of four American hostages held by Islamic State. Prosecutors said al-Shafi Elsheikh was involved in an ISIS plot that took nearly 20 Westerners hostage a decade ago.
Elsheikh’s captors gave him a somewhat fictitious nickname – they along with the other captives dubbed him “Beetle” because of his British accent – but the nickname showed cruel behavior.
“This trial exposed the brutal and brutal Beatles of ISIS,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh, who noted that Elsheikh and other “Beatles” always wore masks in front of their captors.
Prosecutors said during a sentencing hearing in federal court in Alexandria on Friday that he was the highest-ranking and most notorious member of Islamic State convicted in a US court. Earlier this year a jury found him guilty of kidnapping, which resulted in death and other crimes, followed by a life sentence guaranteed.
Four American hostages were sentenced to death: James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. With the exception of Muller, all were executed on video and posted online. Muller was forced into slavery and raped several times before being killed by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Four were among 26 hostages between 2012 and 2015, when the extremist group controlled large parts of Iraq and Syria.
The sentences carried a mandatory life sentence. The United States has agreed not to seek the death penalty as part of a settlement that secures the extradition of Elsheikh and his friend, Alexandra Cote, who have already been sentenced to life in prison. Is.
Parekh said that it is difficult to describe the brutality of Elsheikh’s actions. “We lack the terminology of such pain,” he added, paraphrasing Dante Alighieri’s Inferno.
Elsheikh’s victims and the rest of the hostages testified at the hearing on Friday and expressed their anguish. Danish photographer Daniel Rye Ottosson, who was released after paying the ransom, said the worst moments during and after the captivity were when he was alone with his thoughts.
He said it was almost a relief when Elsheikh and other captives beat him. “Then I knew I could only focus on my pain, which was much easier than being alone with your thoughts,” he declared.