- Two suspected ISIS militants have been charged in the deaths of Americans in Syria.
- Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were brought to the US on Wednesday to face charges related to torture, beheadings, and other violence, including the deaths of four Americans and others.
- Due to their English accents, the men and their group were dubbed "The Beatles" by hostages.
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Two suspected Islamic State militants have been charged in the deaths of Americans in Syria, the US Justice Department said.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were brought to the US on Wednesday to face charges related to torture, beheadings, and other violence that resulted in the deaths of hostages that included four Americans, as well as British and Japanese nationals.
The four American hostages included journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.
"These charges are the product of many years of hard work in pursuit of justice for our citizens slain by ISIS," Attorney General Bill Barr said in a statement. "Although we cannot bring them back, we can and will seek justice for them, their families, and for all Americans."
Kotey, Elsheikh, and two other men made up a group of ISIS fighters that hostages referred to as "The Beatles," due to their English accents. Another militant, Mohammed Emwazi, known as "Jihadi John," was killed in a 2015 airstrike in Syria.
The indictment says the group is responsible for the abduction of the hostages, as well as physical and psychological abuse, and calls Kotey and Elsheikh "leading participants in a brutal hostage-taking scheme." Charges include conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death and conspiracy to murder United States citizens outside of the United States, among others.
Propaganda videos depicting the beheadings were released online by ISIS, stunning the US government and its citizens.
Kotey and Elsheikh have been held in American military custody since October 2019. They were captured in Syria one year earlier by Syrian Democratic Forces. The men were expected to make an appearance in court on Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia. If convicted, they could face life in prison.
Barr said the charges are the result of a years-long effort to bring justice to Americans slain by ISIS.
"Our message to other terrorists around the world is this — if you harm Americans, you will face American arms on the battlefield or American law in our courtrooms," he said. "Either way, you will be pursued to the ends of the earth until justice is done."
The families of the American victims welcomed the news.
"James, Peter, Kayla and Steven were kidnapped, tortured, beaten, starved, and murdered by members of the Islamic State in Syria," they said in a joint statement. "Now our families can pursue accountability for these crimes against our children in a U.S. court."
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