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US Takes Custody of Notorious ISIS Beheaders

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'Jihadi John' (later identified as Mohammed Emwazi) beheads American journalist James Foley (Photo: Video screenshot)
ISIS beheader ‘Jihadi John’ (later identified as Mohammed Emwazi) readies to murder American journalist James Foley (Photo: Video screenshot)

Before turning the guardianship of ISIS prisoners over to Turkey, the U.S. gained custody of some of the most notorious ISIS beheaders suspected of torturing and murdering American and other Western hostages.

U.S. officials announced that two of the four members of the British cell responsible for the imprisonment and beheading of American journalist James Foley as well as at least 27 other prisoners, including Americans Steven Scotloff and Peter Kassig.

Foley’s murder was choreographed, videoed and broadcast to the world in 2014 in what would become the first of many gruesome propaganda videos put out by the terror group.

The cell members in U.S. custody include El Shafee Elsheikh, 31, and Alexanda Kotey, 35. Another famous member of the cell, Mohammed Emwazi, believed to be the executioner on the videos, was killed in a drone strike in 2015.

The four-man cell was dubbed the “Beatles” by their Western hostages because of their British accents.

Elsheikh and Kotey were captured by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in 2018. SDF forces include America’s Kurdish allies, who proved to be the most effective force in combating ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Last week, President Trump made the shocking decision to pull out American troops in Northeast Syria, making way for a Turkish invasion and almost certain slaughter of the Kurds by Turkey forces.

Fighting for their lives, the Kurds no longer have the capacity to guard the ISIS prisoners.

Before the U.S. retreat from northeast Syria, it appears the U.S. military took custody of 40 high-value prisoners, moving them to Iraq.

In regards to Elsheikh and Kotey, the U.S. Justice Department plans to bring the two to Virginia to stand trial. However, the plan hit a snag in the British courts where Elsheikh’s mother filed a lawsuit to forbid the British from turning over evidence against her son since U.S. prosecutors have not promised not to request the death penalty.

The Washington Post reported that Britain has shared witness statements with the U.S. but that the case will need further testimony from British officials.

Although Britain has incriminating evidence against the two, they chose not to prosecute them, opting instead to strip them of their British citizenship. Following that decision, the U.S. decided to prosecute the two in a civilian court after gathering the necessary evidence.

 

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