Two of the Isis Beatles are in fear of a “fate worse than the death penalty” if convicted and sentenced to life in a US maximum security prison after being extradited.
Alexanda Kotey and El-Shafee el-Sheikh, both from London, are facing rendition to the US after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured the UK that the duo would not face death sentences.
But the two jihadists – who are accused of belonging to a four-man cell of executioners in Syria – have said that “the worst thing that could happen” would be ending up incarcerated in the likes of what the Daily Mail describes as “America’s toughest jail”.
The United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Colorado is “currently home to 490 convicted terrorists, gang leaders and neo-Nazis”, says the newspaper. “Many have been transferred from other prisons after killing inmates or prison staff.”
Current inmates in the supermax jail – also known as “the Alcatraz of the Rockies” – include so-called “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid, 9/11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, and al-Qa’eda operatives behind the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
According to The Sun, prisoners in the “hellhole” prison“are locked up alone for 23 hours a day in 12ft by 7ft cells without windows”. An Amnesty International report found that inmates spend years in solitary confinement and can go days “with only a few words spoken to them”.
One former convict who served time there told The Boston Globe that the jail was a “hi-tech version of hell, designed to shut down all sensory perception”.
Kotey and el-Sheikh are well aware of the reputation of such prisons. In an interview with Daily Mirror last year, Kotey said: “I would not want to spend time in a prison in the US. That would not be good.
“That would be the worst thing that could happen.”
A former British military intelligence officer has told the newspaper that those fears are justified when it comes to the Colorado jail, which is where they could end up if convicted.
“Justice in the States for Kotey and el-Sheikh will not be about rehabilitation, but serious punishment and revenge,” said the unnamed source. “Theirs will be a life of aching drudgery and boredom. The supermax strips away any comfort and distraction. It will be their worst nightmare.
“In many ways being locked up for the rest of your life in a featureless and excruciatingly monotonous place is for some people a fate worse than the death penalty.”