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ISIS Militants Accused of Killing Americans, Including James Foley, To Face Charges in U.S.

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AP PHOTO/NICOLE TUNG, FREEJAMESFOLEY.ORG
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Two ISIS militants accused of killing four Americans in Syria, including a journalist from New Hampshire, were transferred Wednesday to the United States where they will face trial.

The FBI says Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, both former British nationals, abducted and beheaded James Foley of Rochester in 2014.

Kotey and Elsheikh were captured by Syrian forces in 2018. A third member of the cell, Mohammed Emwazi, often referred to as “Jihadi John,” was killed in a drone attack in 2015. A fourth man is in prison in Turkey. 

Along with the killing of Foley, the men are accused of abducting and killing Steven Sotloff, also a journalist, as well as humanitarian workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Muller.

The men, along with two other ISIS militants, were referred to as the “Beatles” by their hostages because of their British accents.

In a statement posted on the James Foley Foundation website, the families of the victims expressed gratitude for the legal action.

“Kotey and El Sheikh's extradition and trial in the United States will be the first step in the pursuit of justice for the alleged horrific human rights crimes against these four young Americans, who saw the suffering of the Syrian people and wanted to help, whether by providing humanitarian aid or by telling the world about the evolving Syrian crisis,” they wrote. 

For years, the legal fate of the two militants remained in question as British authorities were reportedly unwilling to share evidence unless the United States agreed not to pursue capital punishment, which is illegal in Britain.

In August, U.S. Attorney General William Barr provided assurances to the UK government, according to media reports, clearing the way for their transfer.

The men are scheduled to appear in a Virginia courtroom Wednesday afternoon.

They are charged with conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death, four counts of hostage taking resulting in death, conspiracy to murder United States citizens outside of the country, as well as other charges.

“We are hopeful that the U.S. government will finally be able to send the important message that if you harm Americans, you will never escape justice,” said the families. “And when you are caught, you will face the full power of American law. 

According to the FBI, the terrorist cell was also responsible for the abductions of at least 14 other people.

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Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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