WOLFEBORO, N.H. (NewsNation Now) — Six years after journalist James Foley and three other American hostages were beheaded by ISIS militants, the Department of Justice has charged two men in connection with those murders.
El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey appeared in federal court on Wednesday afternoon. They were part of a group their hostages dubbed “the Beatles” because of their British accents.
They’re accused of “leading a campaign” that led to the torture and beheading of western hostages they captured in Syria, including Foley.
The two ISIS fighters were being held in Iraq by U.S. forces, but were recently transferred to Virginia where they were indicted on eight federal charges.
Five of them carry a mandatory life sentence if they are convicted.
NewsNation’s Marni Hughes talked with James Foley’s mother, Diane, about her mission for justice.
The mission of the James W. Foley Foundation is to “advocate for the freedom of all Americans held hostage abroad and promote the safety of journalists worldwide.”
The Foley family, along with the families of Peter Kassig, Kayla Mueller and Steven Sotloff, issued a joint statement on Wednesday.
We, the families of James Foley, Peter Kassig, Kayla Mueller and Steven Sotloff, welcome the news that two ISIS fighters accused of playing a role kidnapping, tormenting and murdering Western hostages have been brought to stand trial in the United States.
James, Peter, Kayla and Steven were kidnapped, tortured, beaten, starved, and murdered by members of the Islamic State in Syria. Now our families can pursue accountability for these crimes against our children in a U.S. court.
We want to express our deep gratitude to all who have worked tirelessly to bring Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, the two detainees currently in U.S. military custody in Iraq, to face trial in the U.S. We are grateful for the work and dedication of Ali Soufan and his team at The Soufan Group for this result. We welcomed the United Kingdom’s recent Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for this development and are particularly grateful to Attorney General William Barr and the U.S. Justice Department, whose decision to waive the death penalty against these former British citizens allowed the U.K. to be able to share critical evidence with the U.S in the prosecution of these men.
Kotey and ElSheikh’s extradition and trial in the United States will be the first step in the pursuit of justice for the alleged horrific human rights crimes against these four young Americans, who saw the suffering of the Syrian people and wanted to help, whether by providing humanitarian aid or by telling the world about the evolving Syrian crisis.
We are hopeful that the U.S. government will finally be able to send the important message that if you harm Americans, you will never escape justice. And when you are caught, you will face the full power of American law.