ISIS
ISISReuters

A federal appeals court in the US has upheld the conviction of a British national for his role in a hostage-taking scheme by the Islamic State (ISIS) group that took roughly two dozen Westerners captive a decade ago, The Associated Press reported. The ruling was handed down on Friday.

El Shafee Elsheikh was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2022 in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. His jury trial established that he was a member of the so-called ISIS cell known as “The Beatles”, given that nickname due to their British accents.

Elsheikh appealed his conviction. He argued that confessions he gave in media interviews after his capture in 2018 should have been tossed out of court. He alleged that the Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Forces tortured him and forced him to conduct the interviews.

Elsheikh's lawyers also argued that FBI interviews of him while he was in foreign custody violated his constitutional rights.

However, in both cases, a unanimous three-judge panel of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled against Elsheikh. The judges said the evidence did not support his contention that he was beaten or tortured. And the judges ruled that interrogators followed proper procedures in their two-step interrogation process to inform Elsheikh of his rights.

US authorities have said the so-called “Beatles” killed 27 hostages, beheading several of them.

The group's leader, Mohammed Emwazi who was known as “Jihadi John, was killed in an air strike in 2015 in Syria after an intensive manhunt.

Alexanda Kotey, a member of “The Beatles”, was sentenced to life in prison in 2022 by a US District Judge. He and Elsheikh are the only two “Beatles” who were brought to the US to face trial.

Kotey had pleaded guilty to taking part in a hostage scheme that led to the deaths of Americans, Japanese and British citizens in Syria.

The fourth member of the group, Aine Davis, was arrested in 2022 in the UK on terror charges. Davis has denied being part of the cell.

Elsheikh's convictions revolved around the deaths of four American hostages: James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. All but Mueller were executed in videotaped beheadings circulated online.

“The Beatles” are also believed to be behind the beheadings of British aid workers David Haines and Allan Henning, and Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.