El Shafee el-Sheikh: A member of the Islamic State ‘Beatles’, sentenced for his role in the beheading of American journalists and aid workers | International

El Shafee el-Sheikh, member of a cell of the Islamic State terrorist group known by the nickname of the 'Beatles'.
El Shafee el-Sheikh, member of a cell of the Islamic State terrorist group known by the nickname of the ‘Beatles’.HANDOUT (AFP)

The United States Justice has condemned a member of the Islamic State cell known by the nickname of the Beatles for his role in the kidnapping and beheading of US citizens in Syria and Iraq, between 2012 and 2015. This especially brutal unit of the terrorist group is credited with the deaths of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff; of the aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller, as well as the kidnapping of the Spanish journalist Marc Marginedas, who has testified in the trial as a witness.

El Shafee Elsheikh, a 33-year-old former British citizen, has been found guilty of four crimes related to the kidnapping plot and as many of conspiracy to murder these citizens after a two-week trial held in Alexandria, Virginia. Foley, Sotloff and Kassig were beheaded while the terrorists videotaped them. Mueller, a humanitarian worker, was raped and enslaved by the leader of the Islamic State, Abubaker al-Baghdadi. After 18 years of captivity, she was murdered, her body never recovered. With the name of Kayla The military operation that led to the execution of Al Baghdadi in 2019 by the United States was baptized.

During the trial, dozens of victims who were released have recounted the ordeal of torture and humiliation to which they were subjected. The relatives of the victims have also spoken. The defense argued that Elsheikh was a member of the Islamic State, but not the cell that executed the four US citizens. The Prosecutor’s Office does not implicate him directly in the death.

They nicknamed them Beatles because of the British accent with which they spoke. It was made up of between three and four radicalized young people in the UK. In addition to Marginedas, a journalist from The newspaperJavier Espinosa, from The worldand Ricard García Vilanova, a photojournalist who has collaborated, among other media, with EL PAÍS.

Elsheikh, born in Sudan and raised in London, lost British nationality in 2018. The crimes for which he has been convicted could carry the death penalty, although sources from the Prosecutor’s Office have advanced to the British authorities that they will not ask for the maximum punishment , according to the Reuters agency. He does face life in prison. He was captured in Syria in 2018 along with another cell henchman, Alexanda Kotey. The 38-year-old pleaded guilty to the charges last September and awaits sentencing.

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