Elsheikh was handed down eight concurrent life sentences in a Virginia courtroom on the eighth anniversary of the brutal beheading of one of his victims: American journalist James Foley.
Elsheikh and another member of the cell, Alexanda Kotey, were charged in October 2020 on eight counts for their involvement in the hostage-taking and murders of Foley, fellow American journalist Steven Sotloff, American aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller, as well as British and Japanese nationals. Elsheikh was convicted in April.

Speaking to the press following the sentencing, Diane Foley, James Foley’s mother, said she was grateful for the sentence but called it “a hollow victory.”

“Our country has lost four of its very best citizens. We families lost our loved ones forever,” she said.

During Elsheikh’s two-week trial, former hostages testified to the brutal conditions, beatings, starvation and torture they were subjected to by the three members of the cell, one of whom, Mohamed Emwazi, was killed in a drone strike in 2015. Kotey pleaded guilty in September and was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year.

During sentencing Friday, the US government argued for the eight consecutive life sentences, noting that the crimes the ISIS cell members committed “are as grave, as sadistic, and as utterly reprehensible as it gets.”

“As the evidence at trial demonstrated, Elsheikh, Emwazi, and Kotey helped lead a network of at least nine detention facilities in which 26 civilian hostages from 12 countries were held captive in Syria,” First Assistant US Attorney Raj Parekh said, according to a release from the Department of Justice.

“These vicious acts of terrorism against the world spread carnage and fear, and caused deep despair. And as we sadly know, these devastating crimes resulted in the deaths of at least eight American, British, and Japanese citizens, among others, including gruesome beheadings that were publicized on a global scale and perversely touted by ISIS propaganda,” Parekh said.

“Rather than becoming martyrs to their monstrous cause, Elsheikh and Kotey have been fairly and impartially convicted, in an open courtroom, of their barbaric crimes,” he added.

This story has been updated with additional reaction and background.

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By Richard

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