ISIS Terrorist Pleads Guilty to Role in Beheadings of Four Americans

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
September 3, 2021 Updated: September 3, 2021

A former ISIS terrorist on Sept. 2 pleaded guilty to the “brutal” kidnapping, torture, and deaths of four Americans, two of whom were journalists, the Justice Department announced.

Alexanda Amon Kotey, a former British citizen, served as an ISIS terrorist and participated in the captivity of American and European hostages in Syria.

He is among those responsible for the 2014 executions of four American citizens; James Wright Foley, Kayla Jean Mueller, Steven Joel Sotloff, and Peter Edward Kassig, all of whom died as hostages in ISIS custody.

Kotey, 37, also participated in hostage operations involving British, Italian, Danish, and German nationals, among others.

According to court records, Kotey and two other ISIS members supervised the terrorist organization’s jails and detention facilities at which the hostages were held and were responsible for transferring hostages between detention facilities.

steven joel sotloff
Mohammed Emwazi was identified as the ISIS extremist the media has dubbed, “Jihadi John.” Emwazi is originally from London. (Screenshot)

The former ISIS militant engaged in a “prolonged pattern” of physical and psychological violence against the hostages in an effort to “control” them and compel the victims’ family members and the U.S. government to pay large monetary ransoms for their release.

Often, this would end with public beheadings that were videotaped and uploaded online, as was the case with American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, aid worker, Peter Kassig, and British citizens David Haines and Alan Henning.

Kotey and alleged co-conspirator El Shafee Elsheikh, 33, whose case remains pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, were captured together in January 2018 by the Syrian Democratic Forces as they attempted to escape Syria for Turkey.

Another member of the group, Mohamed Emwazi, who conducted the videotaped beheadings, was killed in November 2015 in a U.S. military airstrike in Syria.

Epoch Times Photo
This file photo posted on the website freejamesfoley.org shows journalist James Foley in Aleppo, Syria, in July 2012. (freejamesfoley.org, Nicole Tung/AP Photo)

Kotey pleaded guilty to all of the offenses charged in the eight-count indictment, which includes one count of conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death; four counts of hostage taking resulting in the deaths of the four Americans, one count of conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens outside of the United States; one count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to terrorists resulting in the deaths of U.S., British, and Japanese nationals; and one count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization resulting in the deaths of U.S., British, and Japanese nationals.

He is now facing a mandatory life sentence in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 4, 2022, by Senior U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis.

“This guilty plea ensures that Kotey will spend the rest of his life in prison for the horrific crimes he has committed,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko for the Justice Department’s National Security Division said in a statement.

“Although there remains much work to be done in this case, we hope today’s events provide some measure of justice for Kotey’s victims and their families as they continue to grieve the loss of their loved ones. I want to thank all of the agents, analysts and prosecutors who worked tirelessly on this investigation and prosecution—their efforts are proof that the National Security Division and our partners will not rest in our commitment to hold accountable terrorists who target and attack U.S. citizens anywhere in the world.”

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.