The Trump administration will not pursue the death penalty against two ISIS suspects in exchange for Britain’s cooperation in the prosecution of the terrorists known as the “Beatles,” allegedly linked to the kidnapping and murders of American and British hostages in Syria. Also, Attorney General William Barr, in a letter to Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel, said the U.S. was taking the action because it needed evidence held by the United Kingdom to pursue the prosecutions of Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, who are now in the custody of the U.S. military in Iraq. And additionally, Britain has sought assurances that the death penalty would not be sought as a condition of cooperation in cases involving other governments.
Attorney General William Barr said “I know that the United Kingdom shares our determination that there should be a full investigation and criminal prosecution of Kotey and Elsheikh,” If a prosecution is to go forward, our prosecutors should have the important evidence that we have requested… We hope and expect that, in light of this assurance, the evidence can and will be promptly provided. “Further delay is no longer possible if Kotey and Elsheikh are to be tried in the United States, and further delay is an injustice to the families of the victims,” he wrote. And he also mentioned, if the matter is not resolved by Oct. 15, the two suspects would be transferred to Iraqi custody for prosecution by that country’s criminal justice system. And last year the two suspects admitted to roles in ransom negotiations for Western hostages but denied U.S. claims of torture and murder.
“I consider my role in this whole scenario, this whole episode as one of my mistakes,” Elsheikh, a native of Sudan, told CNN. “I would like to apologize (to) everybody who was affected, directly or indirectly.”He extracted “proof of life” information and email addresses from European hostages so ISIS could contact family members with ransom demands said Kotey, who is British. He was a liaison between the prisoners and the ISIS officials who handled negotiations. And they also said that some of the hostages ultimately were released but others were executed.
Some were killed on video by Mohammed Emwazi, an infamous cell member known as “Jihadi John.” Emwazi reportedly was killed in a 2015 drone strike said Elsheikh. The men were transferred to U.S. custody last October as Turkey invaded Syria to attack Kurds who were battling the Islamic State alongside American forces. They are being held by the military overseas. Barr said that was not a tenable long-term solution, so he set a deadline for action.
But in July 2018, after lawyers for Elsheikh demanded a review of the decision to allow the men to be put on trial in the U.S., Britain’s Home Office said it had temporarily suspended cooperation with U.S authorities on a potential handover.
Then, in March, the British Supreme Court held that it was unlawful for the United Kingdom to provide evidence to a foreign country that could be used for a death penalty prosecution. The court has not yet issued its final order, Barr said, but even after that order, there could be additional litigation to block the transfer of the evidence.
And the State Department has reported that the group was responsible for holding captive and beheading approximately two dozen hostages, including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and American aid worker Peter Kassig.