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ALEXANDRIA, (United States): The first trial on US soil of an alleged major figure in the Islamic State (IS) group — an accused member of the kidnap-and-murder cell known as the “Beatles” — began in earnest Wednesday near Washington.

El Shafee Elsheikh, 33, is accused of involvement in the murders of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.

Foley’s parents John and Diane arrived at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia shortly before the proceedings began at 9:00 am (1300 GMT), making no comment to reporters outside.

Speaking to AFP this week, Diane Foley said the trial had “been a long time coming.”

“Accountability is essential if we’re ever going to stop hostage-taking,” she said.

Prosecutors and Elsheikh’s lawyers were to cross swords in court for the first time, a day after 18 jurors, including six alternates, were selected in the case.

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