Member of the Islamic country The group that beheaded Western hostages in Iraq and Syria, nicknamed “The Beatles” because of their British accents, has been sentenced to life in prison in the United States.
Alexanda Kotey, 38, of Paddington, London, stood motionless as Judge Thomas Selby Ellis delivered his verdict in a local court in Alexandria, VirginiaWhile members of the families of his victims were watching.
Kotey was sentenced to life in prison for each of the eight counts he pleaded guilty last year when he pleaded responsible for the killing of four American hostages in Syria as well as the kidnapping and torture of several journalists and aid workers.
The judge said the sentences would be carried out concurrently “for the period of your normal life”, describing Kotey’s behavior as “horrible, violent and inhuman”.
Speaking of Coty’s victims, Ellis added, “These were not prisoners of war, these were not soldiers in the field. They were soldiers but they were soldiers forever.”
Koti was captured by a Kurdish militia in Syria in January 2018 and handed over to US forces in Iraq before being transferred to the US in 2020 for trial. The British government stripped him of his British citizenship.
The judge noted that under the plea deal, the US government had committed to seeking Coty’s transfer to the UK after 15 years. “It’s a pretty cool feature for you,” Ellis commented.
The session was concluded by 24-year-old Bethany Haines, the daughter of British aid worker David Haines, who was kidnapped and beheaded by the Islamic State in Syria in September 2014, as she walked toward Coty and said, “I hope you rot in hell.”
Earlier, the bearded Kotey, who was dressed in a green prison uniform and with his long white sleeves, sat next to El Shafei Sheikh, one of his fellow Beatles convicts who stared down while wearing a mask on his beard, while family members of the victims read prepared statements into the microphone . .
Family member after family member has spoken poignantly about psychological trauma, life irreversibly changed, and become haunted by trying to imagine the last moments of their loved ones and the effect it has on relatives, friends, and communities. Some broke down in tears during the devastating testimony, punctuated by sighs and tattoos in the public hall.
Bethany Haines told the court that her grandparents “died of grief” and she was diagnosed with PTSD, depression and anxiety. “My whole life has been turned upside down.”
Haines, who was dressed in black, said she had not slept well at night since before her father was taken. “I wake up during the night to hear the screams of my father being tortured by these men. I hear him pleading for his life and there is nothing I can do to save him.”
Haines added that celebrating birthdays or Christmas is no longer fun. My father should celebrate with me, but instead he is in a mass grave in the hills of Raqqa. He wasn’t buried, he was dumped like a garbage bag.”
She said grief forced her to drop out of school, college and university and she was unable to keep a job. “I am at a loss as to what to do with my life. I originally planned to complete my college degree and work my way through the police force to become a detective but now I guess, what’s the point?”
Haines has a six-year-old son who was born the year after her father’s death. “I find it hard to explain to my son why a mummy is so sad all the time, why a mummy has scars on her arms, why a mummy sometimes can’t get out of bed and why she can’t be a mummy like other mummies.”
Haines’ widow, Dragana Brodanovic Hines, collapsed at the beginning of her degree. She concluded, “I really hope you both live at least 200 years to hear the news of the death of everyone you care about. For all I care, you can live long and suffer.”
And her daughter, Athea, 11, who lost her father when she was four, added: “I miss him so much. Sometimes I get sad seeing my friends from school and club laughing and playing with their parents. It’s something I’ll never get a chance to do again. It’s not easy to be That kid in school whose father was killed by terrorists.”
There was a tragic moment in court when Shirley Sotloff, the mother of the late journalist Stephen Sotloff, braved the Beatles to look her in the eyes. “Sheikh, don’t close your eyes, leave them open and look at me,” she demanded. “Yes, you have to do that.”
The elder complied only in passing before looking down again and refusing to make eye contact. Sotloff added, “It’s something you see in movies – not in real life. Stephen’s death was a universal horror movie that went live and goes on at the click of a button for millions to see.”
She added, “Sleep is not disturbed even after eight years. The disease that hits our stomachs the moment we wake up and the psychological trauma we go through over and over again. We are forever blown away by the loss of our beloved son and know we are the people from the horror movie.”
At the end of her statement, Sotloff again appealed to the elder: “Please open your eyes and look at me. You ruined our lives and we wish for the rest of your lives to think about what you did and your families too. “
Paula Kassig, mother of slain American aid worker Peter Kassig, said her health was negatively affected by her loss because she was often restless, forgetful and palpitating. She and her husband retired early.
She told the court: “Knowing that the man I rocked to sleep as an infant and who held his hand when he was frightened as a child was being starved, beaten, tortured and threatened with death every day for over a year while I was not being able to help him at all was beyond my ability to cope.”
Her husband Ed Kassig said: They say time heals. they are lying. and “close”? I’m sorry, this is just a word to make the onlookers of the tragedy feel better. We, and our comrades from oppressed families, bear scars in our hearts and souls. For us, the operating word is “forever”. I wake up every morning and look into the eyes of my beautiful wife, his mother, realizing that they cannot see indescribable horror.
“In utterly unpredictable times, the enormity of it all, like a rogue wave would surprise me and shove me to the ground. How does one “price” the cost of losing the value of one’s life watching a child grow and have children? He was the last cassow of his generation. The last male. The name dies” .
As Ed Kassig noted, “We victims have lobbied long and hard to keep them out of Gitmo and avoid the death penalty.”
Karl Muller, father of slain humanitarian aid worker Kayla Muller, addressed the accused directly. “Who takes a young woman, an aid worker, who works her life to help people, to heal people, who takes a woman like that? Cowards. That’s who does that.”
“Courage is what you witness here today. She would have helped hundreds, possibly thousands, of people during her lifetime, and you took her out of the world.”
At times, even Ellis, a judge with profound experience, seemed to be struggling to make up himself. After the statements, he said: “Countries celebrate heroes and we should celebrate those individuals who showed courage, purpose and compassion under the most difficult circumstances.”
“The victims of ISIS hostage-taking are undoubtedly heroes,” he added.
The sheikh, who has also been stripped of his British citizenship, is due to be sentenced on August 19 after being found guilty of his role in the plot.