Is­lamic State jail­ers charged in abuse of mur­dered hostages

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - POLITICS - BY ADAM GOLD­MAN AND CHAR­LIE SAV­AGE

WASHINGTON — Two no­to­ri­ous Is­lamic State group de­tainees from Bri­tain were be­ing brought to the United States on Wed­nes­day to face fed­eral charges over ac­cu­sa­tions that they jailed and tor­tured Western hostages, some of whom were be­headed, Justice De­part­ment of­fi­cials said.

The trans­fer is a mile­stone in the saga of the two men, El Shafee El­sheikh, 32, and Alexanda Kotey, 36, who are half of an Is­lamic State group cell of four Bri­tons called “the Bea­tles” — a nick­name be­stowed by their vic­tims be­cause of their ac­cents — and known for their ex­treme bru­tal­ity.

The U. S. gov­ern­ment has linked the group to the kid­nap­ping and abuse of more than two dozen hostages, some of whom were ul­ti­mately be­headed for pro­pa­ganda videos, in­clud­ing jour­nal­ists James Fo­ley and Steven Sot­loff.

The Bri­tish ex­trem­ists re­peat­edly beat the hostages they kept im­pris­oned in Raqqa, Syria, for­merly the Is­lamic State group’s self-de­clared cap­i­tal, ac­cord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors. They sub­jected their hostages to abuses in­clud­ing wa­ter­board­ing, mock ex­e­cu­tions, painful stress po­si­tions, food de­pri­va­tion, beat­ings with sticks last­ing 20 minutes or longer, choke­holds caus­ing black­outs, and elec­tric shocks. They also forced their hostages to fight each other and to wit­ness mur­ders, court pa­pers said.

At a news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day, Justice De­part­ment of­fi­cials and FBI Di­rec­tor Christo­pher A. Wray an­nounced the men had been in­dicted on mul­ti­ple charges, in­clud­ing hostage-tak­ing re­sult­ing in death and con­spir­acy to com­mit mur­der out­side the United States. If convicted, the men could spend the rest of their lives in prison. They were ex­pected to make an ini­tial ap­pear­ance Wed­nes­day in fed­eral court in Alexan­dria, Vir­ginia.

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