British Citizen Admits In Court To Playing Role In Beheading Of American Journalists

(AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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A British citizen pleaded guilty in court Thursday to being one of the chief architects of an Islamic State terrorist plot to torture and behead Americans taken hostage.

Alexanda Amon Kotey, a 37-year-old British male, pleaded guilty in a U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, to each of the eight counts brought against him, according to The Associated Press. Kotey admitted to providing material support to the Islamic State from 2012 to 2015, as well as taking American hostages who eventually were killed by the Islamic State, the AP reported.

The four Americans Kotey helped the Islamic State capture and put to death were journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. Kotey also assisted the Islamic State in holding European and Japanese nationals captive, according to the AP.

Kotey’s plea deal involves a mandatory minimum sentence of life without parole, and requires cooperation with authorities on matters involving life in the Islamic State terror group, as well as meeting with the victim’s families at their request, according to the AP.

Kotey is eligible to be transferred to the U.K after spending 15 years behind bars in the U.S. By entering the plea agreement, Kotey admitted that a life without parole sentence is fit for incarceration in either the U.S. and the U.K., the AP reported. If Kotey is transferred to the U.K. and is not sentenced to life, he would still be required to serve the rest of his U.S.-imposed sentence, the AP noted.

Kotey, along with three other Islamic State members, all have British accents and were nicknamed “the Beatles” by their former captives. Another member of “the Beatles,” El Shafee Elsheikh, was brought to the U.S. in 2020 with Kotey, and is scheduled to appear in court in January, according to the AP.

While Kotey is required to aid authorities regarding Islamic State matters, he will not be required to testify against Elsheikh, the AP noted. (RELATED: Mother Of Journalist Murdered By ISIS Reacts To Leader’s Death)

Kotey also spoke about his role in the Islamic State. He said he pledged his allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and first traveled to Syria to “engage in a military fight against the Syrian forces of Bashar Assad,” the AP reported. Kotey said he played a role in “capture-and-detain operations” against American nationals and other Western citizens, and inflicted violence against them to try and persuade Western governments to hand over ransom payments. Kotey said he eventually became a sniper and director of a special forces training camp for the Islamic State.

“I accept I will be perceived as a radical who holds extremist views,” Kotey said in court, the AP reported. U.S.-supported Syrian Democratic Forces captured Kotey and Elsheikh in 2018 in Syria as the pair attempted to flee to Turkey, according to the AP.

The four victims’ families were in attendance at the hearing Thursday, and will have the opportunity to enter testimony at Kotey’s formal sentence hearing March 4.

“Accountability is essential if our country wants to discourage hostage-taking,” Diane Foley, James Foley’s mother, said after Thursday’s hearing, according to the AP.