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U.S. charges Islamic State 'Beatles' in deaths of 4 Americans

U.S. charges Islamic State 'Beatles' in deaths of 4 Americans
Relatives of slain journalist James Foley are seen during a memorial service at the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Rochester, N.H., on August 24, 2014. Foley was abducted and killed by the Islamic State terror group in Syria. File Photo by Katherine Taylor/EPA

Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Two British citizens who joined the Islamic State militant group and are accused in the deaths of four Americans, including journalist James Foley, have been indicted on terror charges, officials said Wednesday.

Alexanda Amon Kotey, 35, and El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, were flown to the United States on Wednesday, where they would make initial court appearances near Washington, D.C.

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The indictment says Kotey, Elsheikh and operatives Mohammed Emwazi and Aine Davis participated in abductions of American and European hostages in Syria between 2012 and 2015.

Kotey and Elsheikh, who were both caught by Kurdish forces in Syria, said they extracted information from their captives to use in ransom negotiations for Foley and the other three American hostages -- Kayla Mueller, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig.

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They have denied involvement in their deaths, however.

Prosecutors said Kotey, Elsheikh and Emwazi supervised hostages and were responsible for transferring them among detention facilities and managing a prolonged regimen of physical and psychological violence.

"These charges are the product of many years of hard work in pursuit of justice for our citizens slain by [the Islamic State]," U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in a statement. "Although we cannot bring them back, we can and will seek justice for them, their families, and for all Americans."

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"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," added FBI Director Christopher Wray. "These families have suffered with the painful loss of their loved ones at the hands of brutal killers."

Kotey and Elsheikh were known to their captives as "the Beatles" because of their British accents. Emwazi, known as "Jihadi John," was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2015 and Davis is imprisoned in Turkey.

"Their alleged acts have shattered the lives of four American families," U.S. Attorney G. Zachary said. "What each of these families has sought more than anything else is for these defendants to have their day in court. Well, that day has come."

Foley was abducted by the Islamic State in Syria in late 2012. Like numerous hostages taken by the terrorist group, he was eventually beheaded in 2014.

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