'A fantastic man and father': British hostage's life threatened by ISIS
A hostage from Britain currently under threat of execution by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants was formerly an aid worker who spent years helping to rebuild post-war communities in the Balkans.
David Haines, who appeared in an IS video depicting the brutal beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff, has been held in captivity in the Middle East for the past 17 months. He was captured in March 2013 in the vicinity of Syria’s Atmeh refugee camp close to the Turkish border.
Haines is a 44-year-old father of two who was born in the Northern county of Yorkshire, but grew up in Scotland. Reflecting on his absence, his family told the Independent he is a “fantastic man and father.”
Although Haines, who previously lived with his Croatian wife and two girls in Scotland, was identified in the Islamic State’s most recent execution video, British media outlets initially refrained from naming him at the request of UK Foreign Office officials. But the situation changed on Wednesday when multiple news sites and newspapers around the globe published his name.
In the online video which documents Sotloff’s brutal murder, the IS militant threatening to execute Haines appears to be ‘Jihadi John’ – the infamous British jihadist who murdered James Foley. Jihadi John is also thought to have been responsible for Sotloff’s execution.
In the chilling film, an IS militant who is clad from head to toe in black robes reveals Haines on camera. He warns Western powers the British father of two will be the terrorist group’s next victim if America and the West persist in their military attack against IS forces.
A friend of the Haines family said a hostage contacted Mrs Haines approximately eight weeks ago to tell her that David was being treated “humanely.” Expressing profound sadness, the British hostage’s wife recently posted a picture of her husband with his youngest child on Facebook declaring, “this is my world.”
Haines’ 17-year-old daughter has also expressed despair at her father’s imprisonment in a series of online posts. Describing the 44-year-old as a hero, she recently said, ‘I miss my dad. I would do anything to have him home.’
Following the release of the footage, the Muslim Council of Britain denounced Steven Sotloff’s murder as “depraved.” But in an effort to justify ongoing acts of Islamic State aggression, controversial radical Islamic thinker, Anjem Choudary, told RT on Tuesday one must distinguish between “pro-life terrorism”, and that which he claims is “against life.”
“You know you could terrorize the enemy in order to make sure that the war ends quickly. And I think this is what the Islamic State, are in fact, trying to do to scare off the Americans and their allies in Syria and Iraq.”
Choudary went on to argue, the general rule for American or international journalists “tarnishing the image of Muslims” in the battlefield in Syria and Iraq is that they are undeserving of any “sanctity.”
In response to the Islamic State’s brutal murder of Sotloff and vicious threats regarding Haines, Prime Minister David Cameron has defiantly resolved Britain “will never give in to terrorism.”
US President Barack Obama has pledged to construct a coalition to “degrade and destroy” IS militants, while global leaders have agreed to work in unison to stop the terrorist group from wreaking further bloodshed and carnage in the Middle East.
Top military personnel briefed UK ministers on Wednesday regarding potential strategies for a Special Forces mission to rescue Haines.