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Islamic State Militant given multiple life sentences for killing of US hostages

Diane Foley, Lori Lyon, Tammy Weitzman
Posted at 5:33 PM, Aug 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-19 20:33:42-04

34-year-old El Shafee Elsheikh was sentenced to life in prison for his key role in the abduction and death of four Americans in Syria.

A key member of the Islamic State cell called "the Beatles," Elsheikh had already been handed five life terms, mandated by federal guidelines in the U.S. before Justice Department lawyers demanded he be given a harsher sentence for his crimes.

He was found guilty in April by a jury of four counts of taking a hostage and four conspiracy counts during a trial, which lasted for two weeks. His former captives revealed horrible details of the actions their captors took against them, including beatings, sexual abuse, killings, and waterboarding by the three British nationals known as "the Beatles" because of their accents.

Friday, the relatives of the four Americans, including the journalist James Foley and Steven J. Sotloff, watched as Judge Thomas S. Ellis III at an eastern Virginia court levied eight concurrent life terms without the possibility of parole. The families of the two other Americans killed at Elsheikh's hands, aid workers Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig, were also there during sentencing, the New York Times reported.

Elsheikh reportedly appeared uncomfortable in court on Friday as he listened to family members of the victims along with a freed hostage who detailed the horrors of his actions.

Carl Mueller, the father of Kayla Mueller, said, “It was stressful." He said, “I’ve spent so much time staring at the back of his head. But it’s worth it, knowing he’s getting what he deserved.”

Mr. Mueller said, “He’s been cold, with no remorse, because I think he still believes he was doing the right thing.”

The court was in session for nearly 3 hours before Elsheikh was led away to prison.