Another member of the cell – Mohammed Emwazi, better known as Jihadi John – was killed in a 2015 airstrike in Syria. It is believed that Mr. Emwazi killed Mr. Foley and Mr. Sotloff, both Americans, as well as Peter Kassig, an aid worker.
A fourth man, Aine Davis, is imprisoned in Turkey for terrorism. Mr Davis’s extradition to the United States appears unlikely as the US-Turkey relationship deteriorates.
The families of MM. Foley and Sotloff as well as those of Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig, two Americans also killed in Syria, welcomed the news that the two men were being brought to the United States to be prosecuted there.
“James, Peter, Kayla and Steven were kidnapped, tortured, beaten, starved and murdered by ISIS operatives in Syria,” the families said in a statement. “Now our families can sue these crimes against our children in a US court.”
The families added that they were particularly grateful to Mr Barr for his decision to waive the death penalty against the two men and thanked Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent who quietly helped them.
Any trial would most likely involve former hostages, especially from Italy, France, Spain and Denmark, testifying and possibly recounting the horrors they endured during their imprisonment by the Islamic State in Syria.
The pair helped supervise detention centers where hostages were held, coordinated ransom negotiations for their release and engaged in a prolonged round of physical and psychological violence against their prisoners, prosecution documents say. For example, on April 25, 2014, prosecutors said, the men forced prisoners from Europe to witness the murder of a Syrian by Mr. Emwazi as part of a hostage negotiation process.