Two high-profile ISIS fighters have been indicted on terrorism charges related to the hostage-taking and deaths of four Americans, the US government announced Wednesday.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, who were part of an ISIS execution cell dubbed “the Beatles” because of their British accents, made the first court appearance via video in Alexandria, Virginia, Wednesday afternoon.
Kotey, 36, and Elsheikh, 32, appeared in dark green prison jumpsuits, handcuffed, and both wore masks at the start of the video proceedings.
Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan read the counts against them and appointed each a federal public defender. Kotey and Elsheikh will appear for a detention hearing Friday morning and an arraignment Friday afternoon.
Kotey and Elsheikh are charged for their involvement in the hostage-taking and murders of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and American aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller as well as British and Japanese nationals.
According to the indictment, they are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit hostage-taking resulting in death, four counts of hostage-taking resulting in death, one count of conspiracy to murder US citizens outside of the US, one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists — hostage-taking and murder — resulting in death and one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization resulting in death.
If convicted, Kotey and Elsheikh face a maximum penalty of life in prison for each count.
“My message to other terrorists is this — if you harm an American, you will face the same fate as these men. You will face American arms on the battlefield, and if you survive, you will face American justice in an American courtroom with the prospect of many years in an American prison. Either way, you will never live in peace — you will be pursued to the ends of the earth. No matter how long it may take, we will never forget, and we will never quit,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said at a press conference Wednesday.
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SOURCE: CNN, Jennifer Hansler and Christina Carrega