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Widow of murdered Scots aid worker David Haines 'will never forgive' as killer ISIS 'Beatle' jailed for life

Daily Record logo Daily Record 23/08/2022 Kaitlin Easton

The widow of murdered Scots aid worker David Haines said there was 'no forgiveness' as a British member of an ISIS terror group who killed her husband was jailed for life in the US on Friday. El Shafee Elsheikh was sentenced for his role in the hostage-taking scheme after being convicted by a jury in April this year.

The 33-year-old extremist was convicted on eight charges after a trial as the jury concluded that he was part of an Islamic State cell, nicknamed 'The Beatles' for their British accents.

David, 44, from Perth, was beheaded by the twisted terror cell in September, 2014, after he was kidnapped from a Syrian aid camp the previous year. Devastated widow Dragana Prodanovic Haines, 52, who is raising the couple’s daughter Athea, 12, welcomed the sentencing.

She told the Record: "Being sentenced to life in prison is justice but it is not going to change anything or make a difference to our lives.

"For me, there is no forgiveness or forgetting what he did.

"Nothing can fill in the gap in our lives. There is no closure. We will never have any closure until we know where David's remains are and he is brought home. We are hoping that one day David's remains will be found and then we can have closure.

"They are locked away now and they should be forgotten. I hope the rest of their lives will be spent in prison thinking about what they did, all they have taken and what they have destroyed. Not just the people they have killed but us, the families who are left. I hope they have some conscious."

In April, Dragana, David's brother Mike and daughters Bethany and Athea, read victim impact statements in front of Elsheikh and his co-defendant Alexanda Amon Kotey, 38, who was also sentenced to life in prison. Athea was only three when she last saw her father.

The order of service at Perth Congregational Church following a memorial service to David Haines © PA The order of service at Perth Congregational Church following a memorial service to David Haines

Dragana, who lives in Croatia, continued: "David will always be alive in us. He worked near to where we live so everyone remembers him. He is a legend here and everyone who knew him has only the best words to say.

"I bumped into a friend a month ago and he told Athea 'you should be very proud of who you are and who your father was'. It feels amazing to have people say things like that to my daughter.

"Everyone was impressed with her courage and her strength at the trial in the US earlier this year. The prosecutor addressed her separately and commended her courage. He said the legacy of the people ISIL have killed is on her back.

"People look at her as she is the youngest of the families. She is strong enough to carry that burden."

Mike (right) and David Haines in the late 1990s © Family Handout/PA Wire Mike (right) and David Haines in the late 1990s

The notorious ISIS torturers were involved in the abduction, torture and beheading of several western and Japanese hostages, including journalists and aid workers. Elsheikh's convictions in court revolved around the deaths of four American hostages, James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.

But US and British authorities have said the ISIS cell was responsible for 27 killings, which also included David and fellow Brit Alan Henning. David's remains have never been found.

James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig were beheaded, with the violent acts were videotaped and widely circulated online. Before Kayla Mueller was killed, she was forced into slavery and raped multiple times by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

El Shafee Elsheikh © AFP via Getty Images El Shafee Elsheikh

One surviving witness recalled an incident during the trial earlier this year.

Federico Motka said in the summer of 2013, he and cellmate David were put in a room with American hostage James Foley and British hostage John Cantlie for what they called a "Royal Rumble". The losers were told they would be waterboarded. Weak from hunger, two of the four passed out during the hour-long battle.

Earlier this year, a second member of the notorious cell, Alexanda Kotey, was handed a lifetime prison sentence by a US judge. He pleaded guilty last September to the murders of Foley, Sotloff, Mueller and Kassig.

Mohammed Emwazi, understood to be the ring leader and known as Jihadi John, died in a U.S.-British missile strike in Syria in 2015.

The fourth Beatle, Aine Davis, was jailed in Turkey before being deported to the UK last week. He is currently in police custody and was arrested in relation to offences under the Terrorism Act, 2000.

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