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ISIS militants expected to be sent to US for prosecution: report

ISIS militants expected to be sent to US for prosecution: report
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Two ISIS militants are expected to be sent to the U.S. on Wednesday to face prosecution for the beheadings of American and British hostages, The Washington Post reported

The U.S. military will fly El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey from Iraq to the U.S., where they will be prosecuted in federal court in Alexandria, Va., U.S. officials told the Post. Officials did not detail the charges against the militants, which are expected to be announced on Wednesday.

The ISIS members, who have been held at an airbase in Iraq since October 2019, are accused of helping to set up the beheadings of American and British journalists and aid workers. Videos of the beheadings were published online in 2014 as ISIS gained ground in Iraq and Syria.

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The two militants were part of the four-man group who their prisoners called “the Beatles” because of their British accents. The most well-known member, Mohamed Emwazi, nicknamed “Jihadi John,” conducted the beheadings and died in a 2015 U.S. drone strike. The fourth man is in a Turkish prison. 

All four “Beatles” traveled to ISIS territory from London, leading British officials to collect evidence associated with the suspects and the travel. 

U.S. Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Merrick Garland on list to be Biden's attorney general: report DOJ dropping charges against ex-Mexican defense minister MORE instructed British authorities to give evidence by Oct. 15 or Elsheikh and Kotey would be moved to Iraqi custody, effectively ensuring a death sentence. The evidence was sent two weeks ago. 

“We appreciate Britain’s providing the evidence in support of prosecution and we look forward to seeing these defendants in a U.S. courtroom to face justice in the near future,” Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi told the Post.

Kurdish forces caught Elsheikh and Kotey in 2018, and they were moved to Iraq as Turkey invaded northeast Syria last year. 

Those who had been hostages of Elsheikh and Kotey said they experienced beatings, waterboarding and mock executions.

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In videos, Emwazi beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning. American aid worker Peter Kassig was killed off camera, and ISIS said American human rights activist Kayla Mueller died in a Jordanian airstrike.

Elsheikh and Kotey told reporters from Kurdish custody that their mission was to get information, sometimes through violent means, to be utilized in ransom negotiations. But they claim they were not involved with the executions, according to the Post.

Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenTop Democrat calls Trump's Afghan drawdown 'the right policy decision' as others warn of 'mistake' Overnight Defense: How members of the Armed Services committees fared in Tuesday's elections | Military ballots among those uncounted in too-close-to-call presidential race | Ninth US service member killed by COVID-19 Biden wins New Hampshire MORE (D-N.H.) released a statement in response to the news saying the families of Foley, Sotloff, Kassig and Mueller "have waited a long time for this."

"Today is a giant step towards justice,” she said. “These terrorists have been in legal limbo for years but thankfully that ambiguity is now over. The families of the Americans murdered by ISIS finally have their day in court on the horizon."

"Through a thorough trial with all evidence presented, the United States has an opportunity to deliver real justice and honor the memories of James, Peter, Steven and Kayla,” she added.

The families of Foley, Kassig, Mueller and Sotloff said in a joint statement that they welcome the news that the two militants are being tried in the U.S., adding that their extradition and trial "will be the first step in the pursuit of justice for the alleged horrific human rights crimes" against their family members.

"James, Peter, Kayla and Steven were kidnapped, tortured, beaten, starved, and murdered by members of the Islamic State in Syria," the families' statement reads. "Now our families can pursue accountability for these crimes against our children in a U.S. court."

"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," the statement concluded. "And when you are caught, you will face the full power of American law."

--Updated at 11:10 a.m.