US judge rejects torture claims by ISIL ‘Beatles’ defendant

One of UK-born, former ISIL members known as ‘The Beatles’ faces charges related to torture and beheading of hostages.

Accused ISIL members Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh sit next to each other during an interview
Former ISIL members Alexanda Kotey (left) and El Shafee Elsheikh are indicted on multiple charges including hostage-taking resulting in death and conspiracy to commit murder [File: Hussein Malla/AP Photo]

Incriminating statements made by a British national charged with a significant role in the torture and beheading of American and British hostages held by ISIL (ISIS) can be used against him at trial, a judge in the United States has ruled.

El Shafee Elsheikh sought to have statements admitting his role in the scheme tossed out, claiming they were obtained through torture after he was captured.

But US District Judge TS Ellis, in a ruling issued this week, said his claims were unsupported by testimony taken during a three-day hearing last year.

Elsheikh also objected to the fact that defence interrogators questioned him 26 times before he was advised of his right to remain silent.

But Ellis said interrogators used a legally permissible two-step interrogation process, in which a “clean team” of interrogators came in after those 26 interviews, advised him of his rights, and collected information only from those subsequent interviews.

Elsheikh is one of four ISIL members nicknamed “the Beatles” by their captives because of their English accents.

The indictment charges him with hostage-taking resulting in the deaths of Americans James Foley, Kayla Mueller, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig.

It also charges him with conspiring in the deaths of British and Japanese nationals, including aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and journalists Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto.

A co-defendant, Alexanda Kotey, pleaded guilty last year in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, in a plea bargain that would impose a mandatory life sentence but includes a provision that could allow him to serve out his sentence in the United Kingdom after 15 years of imprisonment in the US.

Source: AP