A pair of Brits allegedly part of the ISIS execution squad ‘The Beatles’ are facing charges, the US Justice Department has confirmed.
Alexanda Kotey, 36, and El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, both from west London, stand accused of a “brutal hostage-taking scheme” in Syria.
Their actions allegedly resulted in the deaths of four American citizens, as well as British and Japanese nationals.
The pair were due to arrive in the US in FBI custody today and make their first appearance in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, in the afternoon.
Kotey and Elsheikh are being held over the killings of British and US citizens which were among many filmed and beamed around the world in graphic detail by so-called Islamic State.
They are accused of belonging to a cell of executioners in Syria, known as The Beatles because of their British accents, and are said to be responsible for killing a number of Western captives including Britons Alan Henning and David Haines.
According to documents from the US Justice Department, Kotey and Elsheikh are each charged with conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death and four counts of hostage taking resulting in death.
The documents also state they are charged with conspiracy to murder United States citizens outside of the United States, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists – hostage taking and murder – resulting in death and conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation resulting in death.
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of life in prison, the papers said.
The pair were captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces in January 2018 and transferred to the custody of the US military in Iraq in October 2019, remaining in American custody ever since.
Last month, families of the men allegedly killed by the pair welcomed news they were likely to face trial in the US after a High Court ruling allowed the UK to share case information with US authorities, describing the decision as a “huge result for us”.
In a direct message to “other terrorists”, John Demers, assistant attorney general for National Security, said: “If you harm an American, you will face the same fate as these men.
“You will face American arms on the battlefield, and if you survive that, you will face American justice in an American courtroom and the prospect of many years in an American prison.
“Either way, you will never live in peace – you will be pursued to the ends of the earth. No matter how long it may take, we will never forget, and we will never quit.”
On behalf of the US attorney general he thanked Home Secretary Priti Patel and her predecessor Sajid Javid for their “unwavering commitment to the pursuit of justice in this case”, calling their support “critical to moving this investigation and prosecution forward”.
Kotey and Elshiekh, the only two surviving members of ‘The Beatles’ execution squad, were stripped of their British citizenship in 2018.