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ISIS members linked to death of Arizona's Kayla Muller in FBI custody

Kayla Mueller.jpeg
Posted at 9:07 AM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 12:12:30-04

ALEXANDRIA, VA — Two members for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) involved in the killings of four Americans, including Kayla Mueller, are set to appear in a U.S. court Wednesday afternoon.

Former British citizens Alexanda Amon Kotye and El Shafee Elsheikh are expected to arrive in the U.S. Wednesday and make their initial appearance in Alexandria, Virginia.

2 ISIS fighters indicted in killings of US journalists, aid workers
FILE - In this March 30, 2018 file photo, Alexanda Amon Kotey, left, and El Shafee Elsheikh, who were allegedly among four British jihadis who made up a brutal Islamic State cell dubbed "The Beatles," sit on a sofa during an interview with The Associated Press at a security center in Kobani, Syria. The Justice Department is preparing to announce charges Wednesday against two men from Britain who joined the Islamic State and were part of a cell that beheaded Western hostages, a law enforcement official said. Their arrival in the U.S. to face charges sets the stage for arguably the most sensational terrorism prosecution since the 2014 case against the suspected ringleader of a deadly attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

They’re being held on charges related to their participation in a brutal hostage-taking scheme that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, as well as the deaths of British and Japanese nationals, in Syria.

Among the four Americans killed was Prescott native Kayla Muller. She was in Syria doing humanitarian work when she was abducted by terrorists in 2013. Authorities say during the 18 months she was held as a hostage, she was tortured and sexually abused.

In February 2015, Muller's family received an email from ISIS fighters confirming her death in Syria.

American Islamic State
FILE -- In this Tues., Feb. 10, 2015 file photo, a small memorial honoring American hostage Kayla Mueller is on display at a corner of courthouse plaza in Prescott, Ariz. Omar Alkhani, boyfriend of Mueller, spoke to The Associated Press on Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015, via webcam from Turkey in one of his first interviews. Alkhani talked about how he met Mueller in 2010 and the last time he saw her in 2013 as a prisoner of the Islamic State group. The U.S. government and Mueller’s family confirmed her death last week. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca, File)

Another American killed was journalist James Foley who taught at Lowell Elementary School in Phoenix in the 1990s. He was captured in November 2012. In August 2014, ISIS's media center released a video of his killing.

James Foley
FILE - In this Friday, May 27, 2011, file photo, journalist James Foley poses for a photo during an interview with The Associated Press, in Boston. A video by Islamic State militants that purports to show the killing of Foley by the militant group was released Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. Foley, from Rochester, N.H., went missing in 2012 in northern Syria while on assignment for Agence France-Press and the Boston-based media company GlobalPost. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Steven Sotloff and Peter Edward Kassig were also killed, with videos showing their deaths released.

Elsheikh and Kotey, 32 and 36, are two of the four ISIS fighters nicknamed "The Beatles" by intelligence officers because of their British accents. They reportedly worked with Mohamed Emwazi, who is no longer alive, and a fourth British citizen (CC-1) currently incarcerated in Turkey, to abduct American and European hostages in Syria.

"The men also allegedly engaged in a prolonged pattern of physical and psychological violence against the hostages," the U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release.

Officials say they worked closely with Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, a former leading ISIS commander and chief media spokesperson, who reported directly to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the former self-proclaimed leader of ISIS. Both Adnani and Baghdadi were killed in US operations in 2016 and 2019.

Kotey and Elsheikh are each charged with conspiracy to commit hostage-taking resulting in death; four counts of hostage-taking resulting in death; conspiracy to murder United States citizens outside of the United States; conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists — hostage-taking and murder — resulting in death; and conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization resulting in death. If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.