Bethany Haines was left stunned as she learned El Shafee Elsheikh told interrogators he has specific details about her dad David's death, ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo reports
The daughter of a British man killed by Islamic State says she felt "nothing but disgust" having come face-to-face for the first time with one of the men accused of conspiring to murder her father.
Bethany Haines, whose father David was killed in 2014, was attending the court hearing of El Shafee Elsheikh who is due to stand trial next year accused of his involvement in the murder of a number of British and American hostages in Syria between 2014 and 2015.
The hearings have brought together families of three of those victims. Alongside Haines in court were Americans Diane Foley and Marsha Mueller. British aid worker David Haines, James Foley and Kayla Mueller had all travelled to the region before they were captured by the group, known as the Islamic State Beatles because of their British accents.
Despite the families being united by their ordeal for nearly ten years, this week was the first time they had all met in person.
Last month Alexanda Kotey pleaded guilty to multiple charges relating to the kidnapping, torture and murders of four Americans – including James Foley and Kayla Mueller.
As part of his plea deal, Kotey has agreed to meet each of the victims families and in return, will be allowed to return back to the UK after 15 years and serve out the rest of his sentence.
The trial - due to begin in January - will now only include Elsheikh who still maintains his innocence. Ahead of that, the families came within yards of him at a hearing in Virginia.
ITV News travelled with Bethany to the United States as she saw for the first time the man accused of holding her father hostage.
On the way to the hearing, Bethany said this moment was about “representing her dad”
Bethany Haines was just 17 when her father David was killed, since his death she has travelled to Syria to learn of his final days before he was murdered by ISIS.
She had been adamant she would travel to the US so she can look the man charged with conspiring to murder her father in the eye when he faces trial.
Speaking about the impact being in court had on her, Bethany said: "Even hearing my dad’s name in court, I got emotional and had to step out for a moment."
Bethany Haines said she "wouldn't be intimidated" by Elsheikh
Reflecting on the encounter she said: "He was masked. And so I couldn't really tell what his facial expression was.
"He just stared right into my eyes and I stared back. I'm not going to be intimidated by him. I'm not going to look away. You know, I've nothing to be ashamed of. He's the one who's got to be intimidated or embarrassed"
Who were the Islamic State ‘Beatles’?
'The Beatles', as they were known because of their British accents, were a subgroup of Islamic State which was involved in kidnappings in Iraq and Syria.
The group, who left west London to travel to Syria to join ISIS in 2012, included Alexanda Kotey and Mohammed Emwazi - the man known as 'Jihadi John'.
Officials say El Shafee Elsheikh, known to friends as ‘Shaf’, travelled to Syria in 2012, first joining Al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, and later joined ISIS. While in Raqqa he allegedly became a member of the ‘The Beatles’.
The cell was allegedly responsible for the beheadings of a number of Western and Japanese hostages – including David Haines, James Foley and Kayla Mueller.
In 2016 Islamic State confirmed Mohammed Emwazi, also known as 'Jihadi John', had been killed.
In 2018, amid the collapse of IS, Kurdish forces captured Kotey and Elsheikh as they tried to escape into Turkey and were brought to the US.
It was reported the pair were stripped of their UK nationality in 2018.
Both men are also suspected of involvement in the deaths of other hostages, including Alan Henning - a British taxi driver who was delivering aid, Americans Peter Kassig and Steven Sotloff, as well as two Japanese nationals.
ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo spoke to both Kotey and Elsheikh after they were captured in 2019 who said they wanted to return to the UK.
Kayla’s mother Marsha from Arizona and James’s mother Diane from New Hampshire were in direct contact with the cell, in a bid to negotiate the release of their children over email.
The messages weren’t signed, but the occasional word gave away the anonymous emailer in Syria was from the UK.
"We do not need to remind you of the consequences if you do not comply, act fast": Kayla’s parents read out some of the emails they received
Bethany and the other families still don’t know where the bodies of their loved ones are buried, as part of the trial she is "pleading with Elsheikh to do the right thing" and give up the location of their remains.
She has also prepared a victim impact statement in which she has included an excerpt from the Quran. She read it to ITV News ahead of her addressing it to Elsheikh in court in January.
"Give up the location of the remains of our loved ones, don’t do it for me, do it for my son who can finally say goodbye to his grandad": Bethany Haines reads what she will say to Elsheikh in court
The families will meet Alexanda Kotey in the coming months and say they will not give up on their fight to get answers.
ITV News has made a documentary about the events that brought Bethany, Diane and Marsha into the same courtroom this week, to sit yards from a man from London accused of being an ISIS executioner.
'The ISIS 'Beatles': Blood on their Hands’ will air on ITV on Monday 22 November at 11.05pm.