'I don't want the men who cut my son's head off to die'
Diane Foley said the death penalty would not be 'just' for the Isil jihadists who murdered her son James
The mother of an American journalist murdered in Syria by the Isil jihadists known as “the Beatles” has said he would want to see them tried in a “federal criminal court”, as it emerged that Britain has abandoned its blanket opposition to the death penalty.
Hours after it was revealed that the British government has not demanded “assurances” that the pair will not be executed or sent to Guantanamo Bay, Diane Foley said the death penalty would not be “just”.
Foley, whose son, James Foley, was beheaded in 2014 in a videod execution carried out by Mohammed Emwazi and his cell of British Isil terrorists, added that applying the death penalty risked turning the men into “martyrs” for their “twisted ideology”.Her intervention came hours after The Daily Telegraph revealed that Sajid Javid, the Home secretary, had written to the US attorney-general to inform him that “no assurances” would be sought concerning the use of the death penalty.
Documents reveal that the UK government has agreed to hand over intelligence to help prosecute the captured jihadists Alexanda Kotey and Shafee El-Sheikh, who both held British citizenship, in the US courts.Both men are accused of belonging to the notorious terror cell, which was behind the beheading of two US journalists, the British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, and US humanitarian worker Peter Kassig.Other papers say that British officials have concluded the pair could be sent to Guantanamo without trial, but such an outcome would not be opposed from the UK.
In his letter, Javid said that the decision not to oppose either outcomes did not “reflect a change” in the British government’s opposition to the death penalty or its calls for an abolition of the punishment globally.
Asked what action she would like to see taken against her son’s killers, Foley said she was “very against” the death penalty and hoped they would be tried in a criminal court in an “open, transparent way”.“I think that would just make them martyrs in their twisted ideology,” she said. “I think that is easy for them in a way; it allows them to take a much easier route out.
“I would like them held accountable by sending them to prison for the rest of their lives. Jim was always one that wanted everyone to have the benefit of the doubt.
“Jim was always one who wanted justice in the fairest sense. I believe this is what Jim would have wanted, otherwise I wouldn’t feel that way myself.”
Discussing the decision by the UK government not to oppose the death penalty, Foley said that she was “surprised” but thanked Britain for its efforts to help speed up the extradition process.
Kotey and El-Sheikh were captured in January 2018 attempting to flee as anti-Isil forces swept through Syria and are being held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), accused of being members of the cell.
Both men had British citizenship although it has been widely reported that this has been secretly revoked by ministers.
– © The Daily Telegraph