A federal jury in Virginia Thursday convicted former British citizen El Shafee Elsheikh for his role in the 2014 Islamic State hostage-taking plot that led to the beheading of four American journalists and aid workers.
Elsheikh allegedly tortured and murdered more than two dozen hostages, including journalist James Foley, an American journalist who was executed in 2014. In 2018, the UK government allowed Elsheikh to be extradited to the US and face American courts. In 2020, the US indicted half of the members of “The Beatles,” an Islamic State terrorist cell of individuals with British accents who were particularly gruesome in their torture methods.
During opening arguments in the trial, Elsheikh’s lawyer Ed MacMahon stated Elsheikh was a “simple Isis fighter.” He also tried to cast doubt on whether Elsheikh was one of “The Beatles.” MacMahon stated: “The captors wore masks and had similar accents, making it difficult for hostages to identify them. It was horrific and senseless. None of that is in dispute. What is in dispute – and what you must decide – is whether Mr. Elsheikh bears any legal responsibility.”
Some former hostages, released by the “Beatles” after protracted negotiations, testified during the trial about the torture they endured. Family members of the deceased victims also testified.
After six hours of deliberation, the federal jury found Elsheikh guilty on all charges. This included lethal hostage-taking and conspiracy to commit murder. Elsheikh is scheduled to be sentenced on August 12, and he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.