INDIANAPOLIS — Two fighters with the Islamic State group are expected to arrive in the United States Wednesday on charges related to their participation in a hostage-taking scheme that led to the deaths of four people, including Indianapolis native Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Edward Kassig, in 2014-15.
Former British citizens Alexanda Amon Kotey, 36, and El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, are expected to make their initial appearances in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia Wednesday.
The indictment from the U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Kotey, Elsheikh and two other men were Islamic State fighters and helped abduct American and European hostages in Syria. Due to their English accents, the four men were referred to by hostages as “The Beatles,” the DOJ said.
Kassig, an Indianapolis native and Butler University student, was captured while providing medical aid to Syrians in October 2013. In November 2014, the Islamic State media center released video showing his decapitated head. Other American victims included journalist James Foley, Kayla Mueller and Steven Sotloff.
After he was captured, Kassig converted to Islam and changed his name from Peter to Abdul-Rahman.
Kotey and Elsheikh were caught in January 2018 by Syrian Democratic Forces. They are each charged with conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death, four counts of 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 organization resulting in death.
“Today, we remember the victims, Jim Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller, and their families who are forever affected by these senseless acts of violence,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “These families have suffered with the painful loss of their loved ones at the hands of brutal killers; today's charges demonstrate the FBI's dedication and commitment to giving them the justice they deserve. We, along with our partners in the U.S. Government, remain steadfast in our duty to bring to justice those who have harmed our citizens -- no matter where they are, and no matter how long it takes. I'm grateful to the men and women of the FBI, the victims' families, and our domestic and international partners, for their tireless efforts to bring us to where we stand today with the prosecution of these men on U.S. soil.”