The mother of an American journalist who was brutally executed by Islamic State militants welcomed reports that two of the group’s most notorious killers have been captured in Syria.
Diane Foley, whose son James Foley was beheaded by ISIS militants in August 2014, called for the men to be put on trial and imprisoned for the rest of their lives.
“Their crimes are beyond imagination,” she told the BBC Friday. “They really have not done anything good in the world, so I think they need to spend the rest of their life being held.”
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were captured by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in early January, U.S. officials said. Both men were part of an especially vicious cell of ISIS fighters from the United Kingdom dubbed “The Beatles” for their noticeable British accents. The group was responsible for at least 27 beheadings of prisoners, including that of James Foley, according to the State Department. (RELATED: US-Backed Syrian Kurds Capture Last Of British ISIS Fighters Known For Gruesome Killings)
The capture of Kotey and Elsheikh marks the final destruction of the cell of British ISIS militants, The New York Times first reported Thursday. The group gained worldwide notoriety in 2014 for producing several execution videos showing the beheadings of Westerners and U.S.-allied fighters.
Group ringleader Mohammed Emwazi, who had been nicknamed “Jihadi John” before he was identified, is believed to be the man who carried out James Foley’s execution. The video of Foley’s beheading exposed the American public to ISIS depravity and rocked the Obama administration, which was accused of mishandling the response to the kidnapping.
Diane Foley said Friday that the capture of the last at-large members of the British cell won’t bring her son back, but she hoped that it “protects others from this kind of crime.”
She is not alone among victims of “The Beatles” in calling for Kotey and Elsheikh to stand trial. French journalist Nicolas Henin, who survived ISIS captivity, told the BBC that the men should be sent to Britain for a trial instead of being transferred to a military prison.
“The worst thing we can do with the terrorist is to deprive him from his rights, because then you make a terrorist become a victim, and if you victimize someone then you just fuel his narrative and you just confirm his narrative,” Henin said Friday.
U.S. military officials say the future of Kotey and Elsheikh remains undetermined. Some Trump administration officials have supported sending captured ISIS fighters to the U.S military prison in Guantanamo Bay, but that option opens the door to a legal challenge over the detention of captured ISIS members on the basis of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.
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