TWO of the ISIS “Beatles” who were brought to the US from Iraq earlier this week to face charges for executing dozens of Western hostages pleaded not guilty on Friday.
El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, and Alexanda Kotey, 36, were both indicted in US District Court in Virginia on eight charges related to the murder of four American hostages in Syria.
Two of the four ISIS ‘Beatles’ pleaded not guilty in court two days after arriving in the US to face charges in Virginia[/caption]
El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, is accused of forcing hostages to watch murders and participate in mock executions[/caption]
Alexanda Kotey, 36, was also charged in the deaths of four American hostages [/caption]
The men were identified by authorities as two of the four men dubbed “the Beatles” by hostages, who noted their English accents.
Elsheikh and Kotey were charged in connection with the deaths of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.
They were also accused of killing at least eight other hostages from different countries, including the UK, according to the Daily Mail.
Many of the graphic executions Elsheikh and Kotey allegedly took part in were filmed and shared around the world by the so-called Islamic State.
The men appeared in court via video call from the Alexandria jail dressed in prison jumpsuits[/caption]
Kotey and Elsheikh requested a jury trial and are due back in court in January[/caption]
The pair are accused of killing American journalist Steven Sotloff[/caption]
The men allegedly murdered American hostage Kayla Mueller and forced her to have sex with the Islamic State leader[/caption]
The defendants are accused of forcing captives to witness murders, subjecting them to mock executions, shocks via electric taser and beatings among other brutal acts.
The indictment released by the US justice department said the pair had taken part in and been arrested during a demonstration outside the US embassy in London in 2011 in support of the 9/11 attacks.
Elsheikh and Kotey traveled to Syria the following year.
Both men appeared for a brief hearing via video call from the Alexandria jail, and requested a jury trial while handcuffed and wearing green jail jumpsuits.
The two “Beatles” previously claimed in interviews that they didn’t participate in the executions.
US aid worker Peter Kassig was also allegedly killed by the ISIS ‘Beatles’[/caption]
The parents of murdered journalist James Foley, whose beheading the men allegedly participated in[/caption]
Attorneys for the pair told the judge on Friday that they needed time to carry out “considerable discovery” that’s mostly in Arabic.
They’re due back in court on January 15 for a status hearing, where they’ll settle on a trial date.
The men were transferred from American military custody to stand trial in civilian court on Wednesday after the United Kingdom agreed to share evidence it had on the men.
The information was shared only after US Attorney General William Barr promised that the men won’t face the death penalty.
Elsheikh and Kotey are British but were stripped of their citizenship after they traveled to Syria to join the terrorist group.
Elsheikh and Kotey were captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces in 2018[/caption]
A trial date for the two men will be set on January 15[/caption]
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They have been held in Iraq by US military custody since October 2019, nearly a year after the men were captured by Syrian Democratic Forces in December 2018.
Prosecutor Dennis Fitzpatrick said some of the evidence in the case is classified, which will require some pretrial hearings to be closed to the public to sort out how that evidence will be handled.
“This involves a long investigation involving multiple countries,” Fitzpatrick said when asked about the volume of evidence that must be weighed.