'ISIS Beatle' El Shafee Elsheikh jailed for role in hostage murders

El Shafee Elsheikh, 34, was jailed for life at a US federal court on Friday

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A member of the so-called ISIS terror cell known as The Beatles has been jailed for life after being convicted for his role in the murder of American hostages in Syria.

El Shafee Elsheikh, 34, who grew up in London, showed no emotion as judge Thomas Selby Ellis delivered his verdict at Alexandria District Court, Virginia, while members of his victims’ families watched on.

Elsheikh was given a life sentence for each of the eight counts he was convicted of in April, which are due to run concurrently.

Judge Ellis described his actions as “horrific, barbaric, brutal and callous”.

El Shafee Elsheikh
El Shafee Elsheikh

Addressing the jihadist, Judge Ellis said: “The behaviour of this defendant and his co-defendant can only be described as horrific barbaric, brutal and callous.

“This is a significant episode in the history of our country and our justice system.”

Commander Richard Smith, who leads the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “This is one of the most significant international terrorism cases ever brought to trial. These were some of the most barbaric terrorist acts ever seen, carried out with chilling callousness and brutality.

“This is a time to remember all of the victims – those innocent people who were senselessly killed, and also the surviving hostages who experienced unimaginable horrors at the hands of El Shafee Elsheikh and his co-defendant Alexanda Kotey.

"They have shown remarkable fortitude and bravery in giving their accounts of what happened to investigators, and in court.

“I hope that those most affected may take some comfort in knowing that these extremely dangerous men have been brought to justice.”

The US federal court had earlier heard victim impact statements from four people at the sentencing.

Diane Foley, mother of US journalist James Foley, who was held hostage by the group, told the jihadist his “hatred overtook your humanity”.

“This trial has revealed the horrific human rights crimes you committed while part of ISIS,” she said, addressing him directly in her victim impact statement.

“Your hatred overtook your humanity.

“You have been held accountable for your depravity this (and) … you will spend the rest of your life in prison, but you too have lost.

“You have lost your citizenship, your country … your family..

Becoming audibly emotional, Ms Foley continued: “Knowing Jim, my suffering and that of our family would have given Jim the deepest pain.

“(But) Jim would say ‘Elsheikh, you did not kill me. I am alive in my family and friends and their friends.

“I live on in those who survived your inhumanity. I am alive in all those who aspire to moral courage.

“In many ways I am more alive than I have ever been’.”

Addressing Elsheikh again, Ms Foley added: “I pity you for choosing hatred and for succumbing to a false theology.

“I pray that your time in prison gives you time to reflect … and even make amends.

“The God I believe in will forgive you.”