The latest member of the Islamic State cell known as the ‘Beatles’, a group of British fighters, was found guilty by a jury in Virginia on Thursday of aiding in the kidnapping and killing of four Americans between 2012 and 2015.
El Shafee Elsheikh was charged with eight counts, including four counts of conspiracy related to his work with ISIS and four counts of taking hostages leading to the deaths of Americans James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig.
During the two-week trial, former hostages testified to the brutal beatings and torture they endured under the three Beatles members, whom they nicknamed “John, George and Ringo”. Elsheikh, according to prosecutors, was “Ringo”.
Family members of the victims also testified during the trial, including Kassig’s father, Edward, and Foley’s mother and brother, Diane and Michael.
The three Beatles, Mohamed Emwazi, Alexanda Kotey and Elsheikh, would take hostages in order to demand the release of the IS militants in prison or collect a ransom. Some hostages were released after large ransoms were paid, but others were executed by the group on camera for propaganda films.
Kotey pleaded guilty in September and Emwazi, who prosecutors say was responsible for several hostage beheadings, was killed in a drone strike in 2015.
“Evidence shows that they grew up together, radicalized together, fought together as high-ranking ISIS fighters, held hostages together, tortured and terrorized hostages together,” the official said on Wednesday. prosecutor Raj Parekh. “What these horrific crimes have left behind is a legacy of brutal murders and broken families.”
A former ISIS operative also testified during the trial, telling the jury that Elsheikh, whom he identified in the courtroom, was an ISIS fighter and appeared to be a high-ranking member. rank. Omer Kuzu, 26, left his home in Dallas, Texas to join ISIS in 2014 and pleaded guilty in 2020 to conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS.
“He was an important person,” Kuzu said, adding that the type of gun he says Elsheikh was carrying “was a symbol of the Islamic State aristocracy,” because the gun, a Glock, was rare and expensive.
Elsheikh’s defense attempted to claim that he was a “just ISIS fighter” and that he had been mistakenly identified as a member of the notorious Beatles terror cell.
This story has been updated with additional details.