Former ISIS member pleads guilty to kidnappings, deaths of Americans
A former ISIS member pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and deaths of four Americans, two of whom were journalists.
Alexanda A. Kotey is the first ISIS member to be found guilty in a U.S. court and is now facing a mandatory life sentence, The Washington Post reported.
He pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and murder of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and American aid worker Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.
Kotey arrived in the U.S. back in October, along with El Shafee Elsheikh, for their alleged connection to the “Beatles” Islamic State cell that killed the Americans and allegedly participated in the graphic videos of hostage beheadings.
Foley, Sotloff and Kassig’s beheadings were published online and used in propaganda videos, while it is unclear how Mueller died.
Kotey’s plea deal means the 37-year-old will have to spend 15 years in U.S. prison before being transferred to the United Kingdom where he agreed to plead guilty and finish the rest of his sentence, according to the Post.
The deal to transfer him was reached because Kotey was born in the U.K. and the group also killed U.K. citizens.
Kotey admitted in court to sending videos and emails to the hostages’ families when the Americans were alive.
“This role of mine required that I at times engage in acts of violence against the captives in order to subdue them, in order to compel those western governments, including the United States, to act fast and cooperate with our demands. I had no doubt that any failure of those foreign governments to comply with our demands would ultimately result in either the indefinite detention of those foreign captives, or their execution,” Kotey said.
The Trump administration agreed not to seek the death penalty against Kotey to obtain evidence against him from the U.K. government.
“On this tragic anniversary of the horrific murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff, we are sincerely grateful to all involved in apprehending Alexanda Kotey, investigating his brutal crimes against humanity, and making the strong case for his direct culpability for the torture and death of our son James, Steven Sotloff, Kayla Mueller, Peter Kassig, and countless other innocents,” Diana Foley, the mother of James Foley, said in a statement.
“As the mother of James Wright Foley, I call on President Biden, our US Congress and all Americans to demand that our country protect and assist any innocent US national held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad,” she added.