Two of the British Islamic State terrorists dubbed the “Beatles,” accused of involvement in the murders of U.S. hostages in Syria, are likely to be brought to the United States in mid-October, according to two government officials.
The men, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, who are being held in U.S. military custody in Iraq, are accused of taking part in the kidnappings of international hostages, including U.S. aid workers Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig and U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
Kotey and Elsheikh admitted their involvement in the captivity of Mueller for the first time in an interview obtained exclusively by NBC News, which aired in July. Mueller was tortured and sexually abused before her death in 2015.
In the interview, the men also admitted for the first time to having beaten Foley, who was beheaded on camera by the leader of the so-called Beatles, Mohammed Emwazi, who was killed by Hellfire missiles fired from a CIA drone in 2015.
The hostages nicknamed Emwazi, Kotey and Elsheikh the Beatles by because of their British accents. The fourth Beatle, Aine Lesley Davis, was sentenced to 7½ years in prison in Turkey in 2017.
U.S. and British authorities say the men were responsible for 27 killings, including the beheadings of Foley, Sotloff and Kassig, as well as of British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning.
Kotey and Elsheikh have denied involvement in the killings and torture in previous interviews, describing themselves as “liaisons” between the hostages and more senior members of ISIS like Emwazi.
In the interviews obtained by NBC News, Kotey and Elsheikh gave new incriminating details about Mueller’s time in captivity.
“I took an email from her myself,” Elsheikh said, meaning he got an email address ISIS could use to demand ransom from the family. “She was in a large room, it was dark and she was alone, and … she was very scared.”
In an email reviewed by NBC News, ISIS demanded that the Muellers pay 5 million euros and threatened that if the demands weren’t met, they would send the family “a picture of Kayla’s dead body.”
Captured by Kurdish forces in 2018, Kotey and Elsheikh were turned over to U.S. troops last year and have been in U.S. military custody in Iraq amid questions over how and when they will face justice. U.S. prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia have been investigating the case. U.K. authorities have investigated, as well.
The families of the Americans killed by ISIS have been pushing for the prosecution of the two men in the U.S. because they would face longer sentences than if they were tried in the U.K. British authorities revoked their U.K. citizenship after they were found to have joined ISIS.
The transfer to the criminal justice system for trial in the U.S. had been held up by legal proceedings in the U.K. that had barred British authorities from transferring evidence to U.S. prosecutors over concerns about possible death sentences for the two men. After Attorney General William Barr promised to take the death penalty off the table in August, a U.K. judge lifted the ban on sharing information, paving the way for prosecution in the U.S.