British ISIS fighter concerned in beheading Miami-Dade journalist pleads responsible, prosecutors say

PINECREST, Florida. – A British ISIS fighter involved in the beheading of Steven Sotloff, a US-Israeli journalist born in Miami-Dade County, pleaded guilty to all eight counts during a hearing in the US District Court in Alexandria, public prosecutors announced on Thursday evening.

Alexanda Amon Kotey, 37, from London, was known as Jihadi Ringo. Hostages who noticed his British accent named him and three others as “The Beatles”. Syrian Democratic Forces arrested Kotey when he tried to flee Syria for Turkey on January 24, 2018, and he was in US custody on October 7, 2020, authorities said.

Federal prosecutors said Kotey admitted participating in a hostage-taking program that killed four American hostages: Sotloff, his colleague James Foley, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller, who were both unskilled workers. Deputy Attorney General Mark J. Lesko said he hoped this would provide “a measure of justice” to victims.

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“This admission of guilt ensures that Kotey will spend the rest of his life in prison for the horrific crimes he committed,” Lesko said in a statement.

JOURNALISTS KILLED IN SYRIA: ISIS has released a video showing the death of Steven Sotloff (left) on September 2, 2014 and the death of James Foley on August 19, 2014. (CNN / WMUR)

An avid Miami Heat fan who was the grandson of Holocaust survivors, Sotloff grew up in the Miami-Dade village of Pinecrest, where his parents Arthur and Shirley Sotloff still live. Sotloff, 31, disappeared on August 4, 2013 while he was working in Syria, and in 2014 a video of his assassination surfaced. His parents traveled to Alexandria, south of Washington, DC, to attend the hearing.

Kotey admitted that he supported ISIS from November 2012 to February 2015 by participating in “negotiations on the seizure, detention and hostage-taking”. Acting US Attorney Raj Parekh said “the justice, fairness and humanity” that Kotey has received is in stark contrast to “the cruelty, inhumanity and arbitrary violence” that IS has promoted.

Kotey was involved in the murders of British citizens David Haines and Alan Henning and Japanese citizens Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto, the prosecutor said. According to the public prosecutor’s office, Kotey exercised “physical and psychological violence against hostages”. The torture included forcing her to witness other hostages beheaded, records show.

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The other ISIS “Beatles,” Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, were killed in a US drone strike in Syria in 2015, and El Shafee Elsheikh, 33, was arrested with Kotey and is in US custody, prosecutors said . The fourth member has not been identified, but US authorities believe he is in a Turkish prison. Elsheikh is waiting for his trial. Kotey’s sentencing is slated for March 4, 2022.

Here is the list of Kotey’s 8 charges:

  • A fatal hostage-taking conspiracy;

  • Four hostage-taking cases with the deaths of four Americans

  • A charge of conspiracy to murder US citizens outside of the United States

  • A point of conspiracy to provide material assistance or resources to terrorists that resulted in the deaths of US, UK and Japanese nationals

  • A point of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization that resulted in the deaths of US, British, and Japanese citizens.

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I got pepper sprayed by the riot police in Antakya today. But didn’t see any #GeziParkı demonstrators

– Steven Sotloff (@stevensotloff) July 31, 2013

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