A brutal ISIS terrorist faced justice in April when he was found guilty of participating in the heinous acts that led to the violent kidnapping, torture, and deaths of American aid workers and journalists, as well as the deaths of British and Japanese nationals, in Syria.
A federal jury in Virginia convicted former British citizen El Shafee Elsheikh for his role in a hostage-taking scheme that held more than two dozen people captive during the Islamic State’s reign of terror between 2012 and 2015. The scheme resulted in the murder of three American men – journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and humanitarian aid worker Peter Kassig – and one woman -- aid worker Kayla Mueller.
The three men were beheaded, and their murders were filmed and used for propaganda videos. Kayla Mueller was forced into sexual slavery and repeatedly raped by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before she died under unknown circumstances.
In a statement, the U.S. Department of Justice noted that evidence presented during the trial showed that Elsheikh and two other ISIS members, dubbed “the Beatles” by the hostages because of their British accents, “supervised the terrorist organization’s jails and detention facilities at which the hostages were held.” They were known for engaging in “a prolonged pattern of physical and psychological violence against hostages.”
Thirty-five witnesses testified during the trial, including 12 former hostages, who detailed violent and persistent beatings, sexual assaults, water boarding, and forcible exposure to the murder of other hostages.
The jury found Elsheikh guilty on all eight counts, including hostage-taking resulting in death, conspiring to murder Americans outside the United States, and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. Elsheikh faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced in August.
After the verdict, Diane Foley, mother of slain journalist James Foley, praised the American justice system, pointing out that Elsheikh had four attorneys defending him. “El Shafee Elsheikh was treated with a great deal of mercy,” she said. “Hopefully we were able to turn this into justice, not revenge.”
The case also highlights that either in a court of law, or on the battlefield, a message for terrorists sent by President Biden earlier this year holds fast: “We will come after you and find you.”