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.
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.
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.
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.