Signals: ISIS "Beatle" pleads guilty to eight counts of murder, terror

Just how much of a signal will this conviction of Alexanda Kotey send to terrorists in places like Syria, Iraq, and now Afghanistan? The mother of one of the “ISIS Beatles” victims hopes it makes clear that the US will seek justice no matter how long it takes to get it:

A former member of an ISIS cell known as “the Beatles” pleaded guilty in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Thursday for his role in the torture and brutal killings of western hostages, including American citizens.

In a statement, Alexanda Amon Kotey, a former British national, told the court that he left the United Kingdom because he believed “Islamic jihad was a valid and legitimate cause.” He said while he was with ISIS he came in contact with four Americans and three British citizens, who were later killed by the group, among other European citizens.

Kotey subsequently pleaded guilty to four counts of hostage-taking resulting in death, one count of conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death, two counts of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists resulting in death and one count of conspiracy to murder United States citizens outside of the U.S.

Interestingly, while Kotey pled out, his only surviving co-defendant did not:

Kotey and his co-defendant El Shafee Elsheikh, who did not plead guilty, allegedly served as guards and interpreters for the ISIS cell. … Kotey has agreed to cooperate with the U.S. and U.K. governments under the conditions of the plea agreement but is not obligated to testify against Elsheikh if he decides to go to trial. The U.S. government has agreed not to seek the death penalty in this case, so the maximum sentence Kotey faces is life in prison.

The cooperation might be an even stronger message than the conviction. It sends the message that these terrorists are nothing more than bullies around the defenseless, but lack the courage to stick to the war when outnumbered. One has to hope that this example puts at least a little self-doubt into the minds of those who consider joining these terrorist marauders.

But the sad truth is that the conviction of Kotey isn’t the only signal being sent by the US at the moment. The disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and the abandonment not just of our Afghan partners but our own citizens has had to have made a major impact on radical-Islamist morale, and not just in Afghanistan. We have emboldened these sick monsters and will end up with thousands of more Koteys as a result.

Kotey’s sentencing comes in six months, presumably to give prosecutors a chance to see how much cooperation they get from the terrorist. It’s a cinch that he’ll get a life sentence no matter what, so the incentives are somewhat on the low side even aside from the Kabul collapse Kotey must have cheered while in custody. The Brits will get their chance at Kotey in 15 years, according to a deal worked out between the two governments last year, but any release in the UK will result in his immediate extradition back to the US for the rest of Kotey’s life term.

The trial of Elsheikh will likely be a better platform for the kind of signals that Mrs. Foley wants to send on behalf of her son James. Let’s hope the US does better by her than it has to the Americans we left behind in Afghanistan, and hope they don’t meet the same fate as her son James because of it.