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. In convicting El Shafee Elsheikh, the jury concluded he was one of the notorious "Beatles," ISIS captors nicknamed for their accents and known for their cruelty toward prisoners. The guilty finding came even though none of the surviving hostages could identify Elsheikh as one of their captors, per the AP.
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 they only had to prove that Elsheikh was one of the Beatles because testimony showed that all three—the group also included Alexanda Kotey and Mohammed Emwazi (aka "Jihadi John")—were major players in the scheme. Elsheikh, who was captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in 2018, eventually confessed his role in the scheme to interrogators.
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. Elsheikh now faces up to life behind bars when he's sentenced Aug. 12. Emwazi was killed in a November 2015 drone strike. Kotey was sentenced to life in prison on Friday, per CNN.
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