Islamic State release video believed to show beheading of aid worker

Alan Henning’s wife had called for the militant group to ‘open their hearts and minds’

Islamic State militants have released a video apparently showing the beheading of UK aid worker Alan Henning. Photograph: PA Wire

Islamic State militants have released a video apparently showing the beheading of UK aid worker Alan Henning. Photograph: PA Wire

 

Islamic State militants have released a video apparently showing the beheading of UK aid worker Alan Henning.

The one-minute, 11-second video, titled “Another Message to America and its Allies”, showed the British aid worker introducing himself, said the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist groups.

Mr Henning says “because of our parliament’s decision to attack the Islamic state, I, as a member of the British public, will now pay the price for that decision,” according to SITE.

Mr Henning’s wife last week urged IS to release him after she received an audio message from her 47-year-old husband pleading for his life.

Barbara Henning called for the militant group to “open their hearts and minds” and said she had been told that a Sharia court had found her husband innocent of being a spy.

In a statement issued by the British foreign office, she said: “I have a further message for Islamic State. An audio file of Alan pleading for his life has just been received by me.

“I and people representing me continue to reach out to those holding Alan. Islamic State continue to ignore our pleas to open dialogue.

“I have seen Muslims across the globe question Islamic State over Alan’s fate. The voices of the people have spoken out loud and clear. He was working with Muslims to help the most vulnerable within Syria. Nothing has changed. He went to Syria to help his Muslim friends deliver much needed aid.”

Ms Henning said she was “at a loss why those leading Islamic State cannot open their hearts and minds to the facts surrounding Alan’s imprisonment and why they continue to threaten his life”.

She added: “I have been told that he has been to a Sharia court and found innocent of being a spy and declared to be no threat. I implore Islamic State to abide by the decisions of their own justice system.”

Mr Henning, a former taxi driver from Salford, was kidnapped last December in Syria by IS militants.

Last month, IS released a video showing the beheading of British aid worker David Haines. A black-clad man in the video said another British hostage, identified as Mr Henning, would be killed if Prime Minister David Cameron continued to support the fight against the group.

Meanwhile, the father of captive British journalist John Cantlie issued a statement today pleading for his son’s release and said his family had tried to communicate with IS, the insurgent group holding him.

Speaking from a hospital bed through a voice box, 81-year-old Paul Cantlie called on IS, which has already beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker, to allow his son to return home safely.

“This not how I had imagined I would be passing my 81st year,“ he said in a televised statement. “I want John to know how very proud I am of him. I can think of no greater joy than seeing my dear son released and allowed to return home to us.“

Meanwhile, the father of captive British journalist John Cantlie issued a statement today pleading for his son’s release and said his family had tried to communicate with IS, the insurgent group holding him.

Speaking from a hospital bed through a voice box, 81-year-old Paul Cantlie called on IS, which has already beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker, to allow his son to return home safely.

“This not how I had imagined I would be passing my 81st year,“ he said in a televised statement. “I want John to know how very proud I am of him. I can think of no greater joy than seeing my dear son released and allowed to return home to us.”

Cantlie was captured in northern Syria in November 2012.

His father said the family had tried to contact his abductors but had received no response and that his son was an independent photo journalist who had only gone to Syria to document the suffering of its people.

John Cantlie appeared in a video released by Islamic State in September saying he would soon reveal “facts“ about the group to counter its portrayal in Western media.

His father said: “For the first time in almost two years, we saw John when he made a televised broadcast during which he told viewers that he was still a prisoner of the Islamic State and that maybe he will live and maybe he will die.“

Kurdish fighters have warned they are facing a massacre by IS insurgents who have encircled the Syrian border town of Kobani with tanks and bombarded its outskirts with artillery fire.

IS’s battlefield gains in recent months have come as President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have focussed on other rebel groups, and today the army was reported to have advanced on the city of Aleppo further west, threatening rebel supply lines in a potentially major reversal.

US-led forces have been bombing Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq but the action has done little to stop their advance in northern Syria towards the Turkish border, piling pressure on Ankara to intervene.

As US warplanes bomb IS in Syria, Mr Assad’s military has intensified its own campaign against some of the rebel groups in the west and north of the country that Washington considers its allies.

Turkey said it would do what it could to prevent Kobani, a predominantly Kurdish town just over its southern border, from falling into IS hands but stopped short of committing to any direct military intervention.

In July the Syrian army began a fresh advance on Aleppo, after close to two years of stalemate, thanks to extra fighters from the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah, an ally of Mr Assad.

This year, Washington and its allies have shifted focus in Syria from battling Assad to combating Islamic State.

Village by village, Kurdish forces in northern Iraq have regained around half the territory they gave up in August when Islamic State militants tore through their defences in the northwest, prompting the United States to launch air strikes in September, its first since 2011.

Turkey, however, insists the air strikes alone will not contain the Islamic State threat, and wants simultaneous action to be taken against Assad’s government, including the creation of a no-fly zone on the Syrian side of the border.

Agencies