Alan Henning 'killed by Islamic State'


Mr Henning was delivering aid to Syria when he was kidnapped, as Paul Wood reports

The Salford taxi driver was delivering aid to Syria in December when he was kidnapped and then held hostage by IS.

IS had threatened to kill the 47-year-old in footage showing the death of Briton David Haines last month.

David Cameron said Britain would do all it could “to hunt down these murderers and bring them to justice”.

The prime minister said the killing of the married aid worker who has two children showed “how barbaric and repulsive” IS was.

“My thoughts and prayers tonight are with Alan's wife Barbara, their children and all those who loved him,” he said.

“Alan had gone to Syria to help get aid to people of all faiths in their hour of need.”

Mr Henning's wife Barbara had this week appealed for her husband's release, saying: “He is innocent.”

IS has previously released videos showing the apparent beheadings of two US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker Mr Haines.

The video released on Friday is yet to be verified, but it appears to show Mr Henning kneeling beside a militant, dressed in black, in a desert setting.

The footage ends with an IS fighter threatening a man they identify as Peter Kassig.

'British accent'
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said the footage was similar to previous videos released by IS, though slightly shorter.

He said it included a reference to last week's vote by UK Parliament to authorise air strikes against IS in Iraq.

Like previous videos it features a militant with an apparently British accent, he added.

The UK Foreign Office said in a statement: “We are aware of the video and are working urgently to verify the contents.

“If true, this is a further disgusting murder.
“We are offering the family every support possible; they ask to be left alone at this time.”

The US said it was evaluating the video and if proved real, it was “another demonstration of the brutality” of the militant group.

Frank Gardner, security correspondent, BBC News
This latest murder video from the jihadists who call themselves Islamic State is likely to dismay and disgust even many of those who disapprove of western military action against IS.

While countless Muslims have already condemned the extreme and graphic violence of IS, the case of Alan Henning struck a special chord with his many Muslim friends.

He had given up Christmas with his family to deliver aid to Syrians in need, only to end up in the hands of his eventual murderers.

Even individuals who the UK government suspected of extremist leanings had pleaded for his release.

The fact that their pleas fell on deaf ears may now possibly convince others sympathetic to IS that their actions are beyond the pale.

The Muslim Council of Britain condemned the killing.

Secretary General Dr Shuja Shafi  tweeted : “Saddened by reported murder of Alan Henning. A despicable and offensive act. He helped Muslims. My thoughts and prayers with his family.”

Earlier this week Mrs Henning had asked for “mercy” for her husband, saying his family was continuing their attempts to communicate with the group.

She also she had received an audio message of her husband pleading for his life.

“Muslims across the globe continue to question Islamic State over Alan's fate,” she said.

Barbara Henning had made a direct appeal to IS for her husband to be freed

Mrs Henning had said some people thought her husband was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but she said: “He was in the right place doing the right thing.”

She said her family was “at a loss” as to why IS leaders could not “open their hearts and minds to the truth about Alan's humanitarian motives for going to Syria”.

Last month, two high-profile imams in the UK made a direct appeal to IS to release Mr Henning.

Holding him captive is “totally haram [forbidden]” under Islamic law, the clerics said.

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Imam Qari Assim says the apparent murder of Alan Henning is “despicable” and “beggars belief”

Earlier on Friday, the father of another hostage, British journalist John Cantlie,  appealed for him to be released  “to those he loves and who love him”.

The journalist, who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012, has so far appeared in three videos in which he has delivered scripted messages responding to military attacks on IS.

John Cantlie was kidnapped in Syria in 2012
RAF Tornados first hit IS targets on Tuesday, four days after Parliament authorised UK involvement in the military campaign.

The aircraft have been conducting daily flights over Iraq, and carrying out air strikes against vehicles and weapons positions to assist Kurdish ground forces.

The UK is among the nations that have joined forces to tackle the militant group, which has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria.

IS has declared a so-called caliphate in the areas it has taken, and is also holding a number of hostages.

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