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Press Release

Statement of Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh on Alexanda Kotey’s Guilty Plea

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

Acting United States Attorney Raj Parekh, who is also one of the prosecutors on the case, issued the following statement on Alexanda Kotey’s guilty plea entered this evening in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia:

“Alexanda Kotey, an avowed member of ISIS, pleaded guilty today to all charges that were brought against him in the United States for his participation in a horrific hostage-taking scheme that resulted in the deaths of four U.S. citizens, as well as the deaths of British and Japanese nationals, in Syria. He has agreed to spend the rest of his life in prison.

“The four American victims in this case—James Wright Foley, Kayla Jean Mueller, Steven Joel Sotloff, and Peter Edward Kassig—were journalists and humanitarian aid workers, pillars of courage and kindness on the front lines of a perilous conflict. They risked their lives to shine a light on the darkest corners of the globe and to help others most in need. The values that they personified to the very end are the antithesis of those embodied by the terrorist organization that murdered them.

“Contrary to the propaganda perpetuated by ISIS, we have given Alexanda Kotey the opportunity to face justice. Kotey has been afforded due process and, in the face of overwhelming evidence, he made the independent decision to plead guilty to his crimes. The justice, fairness, and humanity that this defendant received in the United States stand in stark contrast to the cruelty, inhumanity, and indiscriminate violence touted by the terrorist organization he espoused.

“Today is also a painful anniversary. Seven years ago, the world was devastated by images depicting the death of Steven Sotloff. It is our hope that we can not only remember the heartbreaking loss of Steven, Kayla, Jim, Peter, and all of the other victims who suffered at the hands of the Islamic State, but also begin to bring a measure of comfort and healing for their loved ones.

“This case has always been focused on the victims and their families. Their resilience, courage, and perseverance have ensured that terror will never have the last word. Today, through the voices and lives of the victims, Justice spoke, and it is those words that will resonate through history.”

Updated September 3, 2021

National Security