A British terrorist who conspired to abduct and behead Western hostages for ISIS is facing spending the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to multiple charges in a US court.
Alexanda Amon Kotey, 37, was one of four militants in the extremist group nicknamed “the Beatles” by their captives due to their British accents.
At a glance: 5 key points
- The cell – said to be made up of ringleader Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, Aine Davis, El Shafee Elsheikh and Kotey – was allegedly responsible for the brutal killings of a number of Western and Japanese captives, including Britons Alan Henning and David Haines.
- The murders sparked outrage and revulsion around the world after being broadcast in graphic detail.
- Kotey, who grew up in London, attended a two-hour change of plea hearing at US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Thursday and pleaded guilty to eight charges.
- They were four counts of hostage taking resulting in death, conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death, conspiracy to murder United States citizens outside of the United States, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists – hostage taking and murder – resulting in death and conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation resulting in death.
- Kotey has agreed to fully co-operate with authorities as part of his plea agreement, the court was told.
What’s been said
“Upon the orders of the Islamic State senior leadership, I, along with others, opened up channels of negotiation with the authorities, families and representatives of those captured and held by the Islamic State.
“This involved me visiting the detention facilities where the foreign captives were being held and interacting with them in every capacity that would further the prospects of our negotiation demands being met.”
Alexanda Amon Kotey
Kotey addressed the court to outline his involvement in the atrocities. He was repeatedly interrupted by District Judge TS Ellis who told him his statement was more suitable for the sentencing hearing.
In a prepared summary, he said he left the UK for Syria in August 2012 alongside Emwazi.
He said he left in order to “engage in the military fight against the Syrian army forces of president Bashar Assad”.
Kotey said when he departed the UK he held “the belief and understanding that the Islamic concept of armed jihad was a valid and legitimate cause and means by which a Muslim defends his fellow Muslim against injustice”.
He admitted his role in capturing hostages and said when his involvement in that came to an end, he worked in IS’s recruitment division, as a sniper and in the terror group’s “English media department”.
Kotey said while working for IS he came into contact with Mr Henning, Mr Haines and John Cantlie, a British war correspondent who disappeared in 2012 and who remains missing.
Kotey said his job would be to “extract” contact details for loved ones of those taken hostage.
The terrorists would then demand the release of Islamic prisoners held by the West or large sums of money in return for the hostages’ freedom.
Kotey will be sentenced on March 4 next year.
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