Statement by The Soufan Group
(New York, NY – October 7, 2020) The Soufan Group welcomes the news that the United States government has transferred Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, two suspected members of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), to the United States to face trial. Kotey and Elsheikh were alleged members of a small ISIS cell known as “The Beatles.” The group is believed to be responsible for kidnapping, torturing, and murdering numerous individuals, the majority of whom were aid workers and journalists. Given the heinous crimes the two men are alleged to have committed against innocent civilians, including Americans, The Soufan Group applauds the announcement that they will face the full weight of American justice.
The group referred to as “The Beatles” was known for its inhumane treatment of hostages, to include beheadings that were recorded and posted online. The group is alleged to have publicly executed three American citizens in 2014: James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig. A fourth American, Kayla Mueller, was announced to have died at the hands of ISIS in 2015. The families of these Americans, and the families of David Haines, Alan Henning and John Cantlie in the United Kingdom, have waited years for justice.
Since 2018, The Soufan Group has undertaken pro-bono work to assist the families of the victims in their efforts to achieve justice and find closure. As part of its work, The Soufan Group was honored to support the families in their wishes to bring the two alleged terrorists to face justice in the United States. The Soufan Group expresses its deep appreciation to the Department of Justice, the prosecutors of the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of New York, the men and women of the FBI and the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell for all their diligent efforts that enabled the two alleged terror suspects to be held fully accountable for their actions in a court of law.
The Soufan Group continues to extend its deepest sympathies to all victims of ISIS and the families whose loved ones were taken by this terrorist group. While the news of an American trial for Kotey and Elsheikh is warmly welcomed, the work to ensure justice for all of the victims and their families continues. The Soufan Group pledges to continue its efforts to provide the family of Kayla Mueller – and the families of other innocent civilians murdered by ISIS – with the closure they deserve.
Director of Global Communications