September 20, 2020

David Haines’s ‘evil murder’ condemned by PM


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David HainesFrom BBC

The murder of David Haines was an “act of pure evil”, David Cameron has said after the release of a video purporting to show the UK hostage’s beheading.

The PM vowed to do “everything in our power to hunt down” the killers of the 44-year-old aid worker, from Perth, who was kidnapped last year in Syria.

Islamic State militants have already beheaded two Americans, saying it was in response to US air strikes in Iraq.

The latest video also includes a threat to kill a second British hostage.

Mr Cameron said the murder of an innocent aid worker was “despicable and appalling”.

“It is an act of pure evil. My heart goes out to the family of David Haines who have shown extraordinary courage and fortitude throughout this ordeal.

“We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes,” he added.

_77576796_de27-2A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister had returned to Downing Street following the release of the video. He is due to chair an emergency Cobra committee meeting later.

The Foreign Office said it was still “working urgently to verify” the video and was offering support to Mr Haines’s family.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said the release of the video “demonstrated a degree of brutality which defies description”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said he was “sickened at the disgusting, barbaric killing” of Mr Haines.

US air strikes

The video, which was released on Saturday night, begins with a clip of Mr Cameron and then features a man who appears to be Mr Haines dressed in orange overalls, kneeling in front of a masked man holding a knife.

The victim says: “My name is Daivd Cawthorne Haines. I would like to declare that I hold you, David Cameron, entirely responsible for my execution.”

He says the UK had entered into a coalition with the US against the Islamic State “just as your predecessor Tony Blair did”.

“Unfortunately it is we the British public that in the end will pay the price for our parliament’s selfish decisions,” he said.

The militant, who appears to have a British accent, is then recorded as saying: “This British man has to the pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State.”

Heavy machine guns and ammunition have been donated to authorities in Iraq by the UK government to help fight Islamic State (IS) militants, the Ministry of Defence said.

Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga, have been involved in heavy fighting with IS.

The militants had previously threatened to kill Mr Haines if US air strikes in Iraq were not halted.

Family appeal

Mr Haines, a father-of-two, was taken hostage in the village of Atmeh, in the Idlib province of Syria, in March 2013.

He had been helping French agency Acted deliver humanitarian aid, having previously helped local people in Libya and South Sudan.

The release of the video comes hours after his family had made a direct appeal to IS to contact them on Friday.

The family statement, which was released by the UK Foreign Office and addressed the militants directly, said: “We are the family of David Haines.

“We have sent messages to you to which we have not received a reply. We are asking those holding David to make contact with us.”

IS has seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and declared a new caliphate – or Islamic state – and killed the two US hostages in recent weeks, posting video evidence on the internet.

The threat to kill Mr Haines was made during a video posted online showing the killing of US journalist Steven Sotloff earlier this month.

The extremist group also killed fellow US journalist, James Foley, last month.

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said the Foreign Office was attempting to verify the video.

“There is a process they undertake to authenticate these videos, the US also does the same.

“The will look to study it very carefully but it does follow this pattern we have seen recently from IS,” he said.

IMAGE: In the video a masked militant is seen standing behind a man who appears to be David Haines

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