U.S. attorney general won't seek death penalty against British Islamic State 'Beatles'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will not seek the death penalty for two British members of an Islamic State execution squad nicknamed the “Beatles,” whose extradition the Justice Department is seeking, Attorney General William Barr said on Wednesday.

In a letter to Priti Patel, Britain’s interior minister this week Barr said if Britain grants an extradition request for Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, U.S. prosecutors will not seek the death penalty and would not carry out executions if they were to be imposed.

Barr said Kotey and Elsheikh are being held by the U.S. military in an unidentified overseas location after they were captured in 2019 but that it was becoming untenable to continue to hold them.

The pair were members of a four-strong group in Islamic State that was known as the Beatles because they were English speakers. The group is alleged to have detained or killed Western hostages in Syria, including U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig.

The Justice Department is asking British authorities to turn over evidence on Kotey and Elsheikh to allow them to be tried in the United States.

Barr said if Britain did not turn over evidence by Oct. 15, the United States would turn over the men for prosecution in the Iraqi justice system.

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