British Member of ISIS’ Brutal Beheading Squad Plans to Plead Guilty to Jailing and Torturing Western Hostages

Kurdish security officer takes off face masks from Alexanda Amon Kotey, left, and El Shafee Elsheikh, who were allegedly among four British jihadis who made up a brutal Islamic State cell (Credit…Hussein Malla/Associated Press)

A notorious British member of the Islamic State who is facing federal charges over accusations that he helped jail and tortured Western hostages is preparing to plead guilty, according to a court notice filed late Tuesday.

A terse filing in the public docket for the case against the man, Alexanda Kotey, announced the scheduling of a “change-of-plea hearing” for 5:30 p.m. Thursday before the judge overseeing the case, T.S. Ellis III of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He had initially pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Kotey was part of an ISIS cell of four Britons called “the Beatles” — a nickname bestowed by their victims because of their accents — and known for their extreme brutality. Some of the group’s victims were beheaded for propaganda videos, including the American journalists James Foley and Steven J. Sotloff. Their bodies have not been found.

Ali Soufan, a former F.B.I. counterterrorism agent who has been working closely with families of ISIS victims, said the change of plea suggested that Mr. Kotey might be willing to provide details about what happened.

“A plea agreement means he is likely cooperating,” said Mr. Soufan, who has helped victims investigate what happened and lobbied the Trump-era Justice Department to prosecute Mr. Kotey and another captured British ISIS member, El Shafee Elsheikh, in civilian court. “During our investigation, we found that Kotey was involved at every stage of the hostage taking. He knows what happened to them and what they endured in ISIS custody. His cooperation should shed light on this.”

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Katie Benner