The father of an American journalist beheaded by a member of the ISIS ‘Beatles’ has said there is now ‘some justice’ after seeing one of the terrorists plead guilty on the seventh anniversary of his son’s death .
Art Sotloff, father of killed 31-year-old Steven Joel Sotloff, said he sensed his son’s presence in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, Thursday when he came face to face with jihadist Alexanda Amon Kotey.
‘I felt [Steven] right there in court with me and I could see him smiling because there was finally some justice,” Sotloff said.
Kotey, 37, known as “Jihadi Ringo” of the terror cell called the ISIS “Beatles” because of their British accents, pleaded guilty Thursday to all eight charges of terrorism.
Art Sotloff, the father of an American journalist who was beheaded by a member of the ISIS ‘Beatles’, has said there is now ‘a little bit of justice’ after seeing one of the terrorists plead guilty
Alexanda Amon Kotey (left with El Shafee Elsheikh right) pleaded guilty Thursday to all eight charges of terrorism
Steven was one of many victims, including four Americans captured by the group before being tortured and executed in Syria.
Horrifying images of the American-Israeli journalist who was beheaded by Mohammed Emwazi – known as ‘Jihadi John’ – on September 2, 2014, were shared online by the terrorists.
Sotloff told Local10 he sat just 10 feet from Kotey in the courtroom as the jihad calmly remembered how he tortured Steven and his other hostages.
Sotloff, of South Florida, said Kotey showed no emotion and was “coolly calm and composed as if he were talking about baseball,” while describing how he beat his victims, waterboarded and administered electric shocks.
While it was “devastating” to hear how his son had suffered, he said he was trying to “restrain myself” because he was with the families of the other victims.
Relatives of the other three American victims – fellow American journalist James Foley and American aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller – were also in court on Thursday.
Steven Joel Sotloff, 31, (pictured) was one of many victims, including four Americans captured by the group before being tortured and executed in Syria
Sotloff said he could take some “fun” in the knowledge that there is now some “justice” for his son’s death.
Kotey made “very little” eye contact with the families, Sotloff said, adding that he “wanted to look the terrorist in the eye” but “didn’t have the opportunity.”
The grieving father said he believes the timing of Kotey’s admission of guilt – seven years after Steven’s death – was relevant.
‘Seven years to the day. What are the chances of that? I think God had something to do with it. I don’t know what to say,” he said.
Steven, a grandson of Holocaust survivors who grew up in Miami, worked as a… freelance journalist in Syria when he was taken hostage in 2013 from a fake government checkpoint near Aleppo.
Gruesome images of the American-Israeli journalist beheaded by Mohammed Emwazi – known as ‘Jihadi John’ – on September 2, 2014, were shared online by the terrorists (above)
Kotey (in blue top) and Elsheikh (rear) being escorted by Kurdish security in Kobani, Syria in 2018
He was held by the terror cell for 13 months before ISIS posted a video of his execution online.
ISIS had demanded a ransom of $140 million that the US government refused to pay.
The Obama administration came under fire after Steven’s death, after the US military failed in its attempt to rescue him and the three other American hostages.
Kotey now faces life without parole for his part in the murders of Steven and the other hostages when he is convicted on March 22.
He pleaded guilty Thursday to, among other things, taking hostage resulting in death, conspiracy to murder American citizens abroad and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
This came almost a year after he initially pleaded innocent last October, suggesting he may now be cooperating with authorities.
During his plea hearing, Kotey confessed to his role in the deaths of the four Americans, as well as British and Japanese nationals.
Foley was executed on video in August 2014 after being held by ISIS for two years since his capture while working as a freelance war correspondent during the Syrian civil war.
Kotey was also charged in connection with the deaths of journalist James Foley (left) and aid worker Peter Kassig (right)
He was also charged with the death of American humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller (pictured)
Aid worker Mueller was kidnapped in 2013 and held for two years, during which time she was raped by former ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
She was beheaded in 2015, and photos of her body were emailed to her family.
Former US Army Ranger Kassig was killed in 2014 after being captured in October 2013 while working to provide aid to Syrians fleeing the war-torn country.
Kotey was part of a terrorist group of four men from West London, nicknamed the ‘Beatles’ and led by Emwazi.
In addition to the four Americans, the group was involved in the deaths of other hostages, including Alan Henning, a British taxi driver who delivered aid, David Haines, a Scottish aid worker and two Japanese nationals.
Emwazi who was killed in a targeted CIA airstrike in 2015.
Aine Lesley Davis, known as ‘Jihadi Paul’, was sentenced to seven and a half years in a Turkish prison in 2017.
The fourth member of the ISIS ‘Beatles’, El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, known as ‘Jihadi George’, is scheduled for January.
Kotey and Elsheikh were finally transferred to US custody last October to face trial in Iraq by the US military.
Who are the ISIS Beatles?
Mohammed Emwazi – Jihadi John
Emwazi was one of the most prominent members of the so-called ISIS Beatles and was regularly seen performing executions in their gruesome beheading videos.
He took part in the barbaric beheadings of British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and American humanitarian worker Peter Kassig.
Born in Kuwait and raised in Queen’s Park, west London, the terrorist was charged with 27 murders and five hostage-takings in November 2014.
He was killed in a Hellfire missile drone attack in Syria in 2015.
Aine Lesley Davis – Paul
Born Aine Leslie Junior Davis in 1984 to Fay Rodriquez, Davis is believed to have spent the early years of his childhood in Hammersmith, where his mother lived.
He was one of 13 children his father had by four different women.
The former tube driver, who has convictions for drug trafficking and firearms, converted to Islam in prison.
In 2014, his wife, Amal el-Wahabi, was convicted of terrorist financing after she persuaded a friend to try to smuggle £16,000 in cash to him in her underwear.
Davis was imprisoned by Turkish security officials in 2015 and was later found guilty of being a high-ranking member of a terrorist organization and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.
Alexanda Kotey – Ringo
Kotey, 36, was born to a Ghanaian father and a Greek Cypriot mother and grew up in Shepherd’s Bush, London.
Before his radicalization, he is said to have worked as a drug dealer before converting to Islam in his early twenties.
In 2012, he left for Syria, where the US claims to have been involved in beheadings and is known for administering “exceptionally cruel torture methods,” including electronic shocks.
He is also accused of acting as an ISIS recruiter who convinced a number of other British extremists to join the terror group.
Kotey was captured in Syria in 2018 while trying to escape to Turkey and was held in a US military center in Iraq.
The British government wanted him to be tried in the US, where officials believe the chances of prosecution are more realistic than in the UK.
He was extradited last year and charged with a number of terrorist offenses.
El Shafee Elsheikh
El Shafee Elsheikh – George
Elsheikh, 32, born in Sudan, grew up in West London and is the latest member of four British terrorists who have fled to join ISIS.
He is linked to the murder of a number of hostages after going to Syria to join the extremist group.
He was captured along with Kotey when they tried to flee to Turkey in 2018 and has since been transported to the US, where he is now charged with terrorism and beheading Western hostages.