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UK Daesh member to plead guilty to US terrorism charges, court records show

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - OCTOBER 07: U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger speaks to the media about the case against two British ISIS militants dubbed "The Beatles," who appeared remotely in federal court on charges of torture and murder of four American hostages, on October 07, 2020 in Alexandria, Virginia. Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh face eight criminal counts in the kidnapping and deaths of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger speaks to the media about the case against two British Daesh militants dubbed "The Beatles," on October 07, 2020 in Alexandria, Virginia [Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images]

A British-born man who was a member of a team of Daesh militants in Syria nicknamed 'The Beatles' accused of beheading American hostages was due to plead guilty today to US criminal charges, according to a federal court record.

Reuters reported that a docket entry for the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, showed a change of plea hearing was scheduled today for Alexanda Kotey, one of two Daesh members who had been held in Iraq by the US military before being flown to the United States to face trial on terrorism charges.

Court records show Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, a Sudanese-born British resident extradited to the United States with Kotey, face charges that include hostage-taking resulting in death and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

Kotey and Elsheikh were citizens of the United Kingdom, but the British government withdrew their citizenship. They are alleged to have belonged to a four-member Daesh cell nicknamed 'The Beatles' because of their British accents.

READ: US coordination with Taliban against Daesh 'possible', general says

They are accused of detaining or killing multiple Western hostages, including US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig. The cell allegedly took part in graphic Daesh videos posted online showing beheadings of foreign hostages.

A 24-page indictment includes a lengthy list of tortures that it accuses Kotey and Elsheikh of inflicting on hostages, including electric shocks with a taser, forcing hostages to fight each other and 20-minute beatings with sticks and waterboarding.

If convicted, Kotey and Elsheikh could face up to life in prison. The United States advised British authorities that American prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against Kotey or Elsheikh. The court docket shows charges against Elsheikh still pending.

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