Washington: A man alleged to be the fourth member of an Islamic State (IS) terror cell known as ‘The Beatles’ has been sentenced by a US court to life imprisonment after being convicted for his role in the murder of American hostages in Syria.
El Shafee Elsheikh, 34, who grew up in London, showed no emotion as judge Thomas Selby Ellis delivered his verdict on Friday at the Alexandria District Court in Virginia, while members of his victims’ families watched on, reports dpa news agency.
Elsheikh was given a life sentence for each of the eight counts he was convicted of in April, which are due to run concurrently.
The counts related to his role in a hostage-taking scheme which involved torturing, beating and executing prisoners.
Raj Parekh, representing the families, said Elsheikh, known to prosecutors as “Ringo”, remained “defiantly remorseless and unrepentant”.
He said the jihadi had made no effort to meet victims’ families, like his co-defendant Alexanda Kotey.
Addressing Elsheikh, judge Ellis said: “The behaviour of this defendant and his co-defendant can only be described as horrific, barbaric, brutal and callous.
“This is a significant episode in the history of our country and our justice system.”
Judge Ellis said Elsheikh had not suffered mistreatment while growing up in Britain.
“He had a decent childhood not marked with brutality,” he said.
The court heard statements from some of the victims’ family members, including those of late US journalist James Foley.
His mother, Diane Foley, said it was the eight-year anniversary of her son’s death.
“This trial has revealed the horrific human rights crimes you committed while part of Isis,” she told Elsheikh.
“Your hatred overtook your humanity.”
Elsheikh was one of a gang of four IS militants branded The Beatles due to their British accents.
The cell was said to be made up of ringleader Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, Aine Davis, Alexanda Kotey and Elsheikh.
Elsheikh was captured alongside Kotey in Syria in 2018 by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces while trying to escape to Turkey.
Last year, Kotey pleaded guilty to eight counts relating to his involvement, while Davis was jailed in Turkey before being deported to Britain last week and Emwazi was killed in a drone strike.
Kotey was given the same sentence of eight concurrent life sentences, also by judge Ellis, at the same court in April.