A British-born man, who was a member of the ISIL (ISIS) team in Syria and accused of beheading American hostages, has pleaded guilty to eight US criminal charges, including lethal hostage taking and conspiracy to support “terrorists”.
Alexanda Kotey, who was born in London, is one of the two ISIL members who were held in Iraq by the US military before being flown to the US to face trial on “terrorism” charges.
Appearing before US District Judge TS Ellis on Thursday in Alexandria, Virginia, Kotey pleaded guilty to the murders of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig.
The charges carried potential death sentences, but US authorities have advised British officials that American prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against Kotey.
Ellis said under a tentative arrangement between US and British authorities, Kotey could be transferred to the United Kingdom after 15 years’ imprisonment.
The Justice Department said in a statement that given that Kotey agreed to life imprisonment without parole, if the sentence he serves in the UK is less than life for any reason, Kotey agreed “to be transferred back to the United States to serve the remainder of his sentence”.
Ellis added that as part of the plea, Kotey had agreed to “full complete and truthful” cooperation with US and foreign government investigators and to supervised meetings with members of the families of hostage victims.
The British government withdrew Kotey’s citizenship in 2018.
Kotey, among others, was suspected of taking part in graphic ISIL videos posted online, showing beheadings of foreign hostages.
A 24-page indictment includes a lengthy list of acts of torture that Kotey is accused of inflicting on hostages, including electric shocks with a Taser, forcing hostages to fight each other and beatings with sticks and waterboarding.