Aug. 21 (UPI) — U.S. Attorney General William Barr said the United States would not seek the death penalty for two Islamic State members if British authorities provide evidence to aid in their prosecution.
In a letter to British Home Secretary Priti Patel, Barr gave the British government until Oct. 15 to provide the evidence or El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, known as the “ISIS Beatles,” would be transferred to the Iraqi government for prosecution under its justice system.
“Time is of the essence,” Barr wrote. “Further delay is no longer possible if Kotey and Elsheikh are to be tried in the United States and further delay is an injustice to the families of the victims.”
Elsheikh and Kotey, both born in Britain, were arrested in Syria in October 2019 and transferred to U.S. custody for suspicion of operating a four-man Islamic State cell in Syria that sought to abduct and kill Westerners.
They remain detained by the U.S. military in Iraq, while Elsheik’s mother filed a lawsuit to prevent the sharing of evidence including voice analysis linking them to hostages and details about their path to Syria.
On Wednesday, a representative for the British Home Office said that the nation would not immediately be able to provide the evidence.
“Legal proceedings are ongoing before the Supreme Court and we are prevented by a court order from transferring the evidence to the U.S. at this time,” the representative said.
Barr noted that the British Supreme Court has yet to issue a final ruling on releasing the evidence and that additional legislation could ensue once it has, but asserted that the evidence was necessary for the case to continue.
“If a prosecution is to go forward in the United States, our prosecutors should have the important evidence that we have requested from the United Kingdom available to them in their efforts to hold Kotey and Elshiekh responsible for their terrorist crimes,” he wrote.