IS ‘Beatles’ heading to US to face charges for beheading hostages

Alexanda Amon Kotey (left) and El Shafee Elsheikh are allegedly among four British IS militants dubbed ‘The Beatles’. (AP pic)

WASHINGTON: Two alleged Islamic State militants known as the ‘Beatles’ will arrive in the US on Wednesday to face trial on US charges for their alleged involvement in beheadings of Western hostages, the US Department of Justice said.

The alleged militants, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, have been in US military custody abroad since they were captured in 2019. They were UK citizens but the British government withdrew their citizenship.

The pair is suspected of membership in a four-strong Islamic State cell known as the ‘Beatles’ because they were English speakers.

The group is alleged to have detained or killed Western hostages in Syria, including US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig.

“These charges are the product of many years of hard work in pursuit of justice for our citizens slain by ISIS. Although we cannot bring them back, we can and will seek justice for them, their families, and for all Americans,” Attorney General William P Barr said in a statement.

In August, Barr said that if Britain granted a mutual legal assistance request for evidence regarding Kotey and Elsheikh, US prosecutors would not seek the death penalty in any cases against them and would not carry out executions if they were imposed.