Islamic State 'Beatle' Guilty in Deaths of Americans

El Shafee Elsheikh, convicted on all counts, faces life in prison
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 14, 2022 12:53 PM CDT
ISIS 'Beatle' Convicted in Deaths of 4 Americans
El Shafee Elsheikh was convicted in the deaths of four US hostages held by ISIS.   (Alexandria Sheriff's Office via AP)

A jury convicted a British national Thursday for his role in an Islamic State group hostage-taking scheme that took roughly two dozen Westerners captive a decade ago, resulting in the deaths of four Americans, three of whom were beheaded. The jury deliberated for four hours before finding El Shafee Elsheikh guilty on all counts, per the AP. Elsheikh stood motionless and gave no visible reaction as the verdict was read. He now faces up to a life sentence in prison. In convicting Elsheikh, the jury concluded that he was one of the notorious “Beatles,” Islamic State captors nicknamed for their accents and known for their cruelty—torturing and beating prisoners, forcing them to fight each other until they collapsed, and even making them sing cruel song parodies.

Surviving hostages testified that the Beatles delighted themselves rewriting “Hotel California” as “Hotel Osama” and making them sing the refrain “You will never leave.” The guilty finding came even though none of the surviving hostages could identify Elsheikh as one of their captors. Although the Beatles had distinctive accents, they always took great care to hide their faces behind masks and ordered hostages to avoid eye contact or risk a beating. Prosecutors suggested in opening statements that Elsheikh was the Beatle nicknamed “Ringo” but only had to prove that Elshiekh was one of the Beatles because testimony showed that all three were major players in the scheme.

The convictions on all eight counts in US District Court in Alexandria revolved around the deaths of four American hostages: James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller. All but Mueller were executed in videotaped beheadings circulated online. Mueller was forced into slavery and raped multiple times by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before she was killed. They were among 26 hostages taken captive between 2012 and 2015, when the Islamic State group controlled large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

(More Islamic State stories.)

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