Find him before it’s too late: He’s a Manchester taxi driver who went to Syria to help refugees. Now he’s facing death at the hands of Jihadi John
- Manhunt to find British hostage and father-of-two Alan Henning, 47
- He was seized while working at aid camp and paraded in terror video
- Unmanned drones sent to target militants as RAF Tornados on standby
- PM condemned ‘monsters’ who beheaded fellow aid worker David Haines
- Chilling video showed the 44-year-old forced to recite rant against Britain
A manhunt is under way to find the British hostage still in the hands of fanatical murderer Jihadi John. Special forces and intelligence officers have been ordered to urgently locate Alan Henning, 47, who travelled to Syria to deliver humanitarian aid. The father of two, a taxi driver from Manchester, is paraded at the end of a horrific new video showing the beheading of British hostage David Haines – implying that he will be next.
Father of two Alan Henning, a taxi driver from Manchester (pictured at a Syrian aid camp) was paraded at the end of a horrific new video showing the beheading of British hostage David Haines – implying he will be next
In a rapid escalation of the UK’s military involvement last night, unmanned drones were set to be sent to target militants in Islamic State target militant strongholds. Meanwhile, in other developments yesterday:
- A dozen RAF Tornado GR4s were placed on 12-hour notice to move to Cyprus in preparation for possible air strikes.
- UK Special Forces were deployed on the ground in Iraq pinpointing Islamic State commanders and targets.
- Military chiefs demanded the ‘destruction’ of Jihadi John.
- The Prime Minister vowed to ‘hunt down’ the killers, saying they ‘are not Muslims, they are monsters’.
- Barack Obama said the US stood ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the UK.
Mr Henning is believed to be held in the network of tunnels underneath the IS stronghold of Raqqa, northern Syria, by Jihadi John. Furious military chiefs have demanded the ‘destruction’ of his fanatical captor, now thought to be responsible for the death of British aid worker Mr Haines as well as two American hostages.
In a significant escalation of the UK’s military involvement, unmanned drones armed with missiles designed to destroy individual targets were sent to Iraq last night in the hours after the video emerged. A grim-faced Mr Cameron vowed to ‘hunt down’ the killers of Mr Haines, 44, whom he called a ‘British hero.’ And he revealed for the first time that IS has specifically planned attacks in Britain and across Europe – and is planning more. Kneeling in the sand and wearing an orange jumpsuit, Mr Henning was shown at the end of the video of Mr Haines’s death with Jihadi John pointing a knife at his head.
The grotesque images sparked immediate demands from MPs and former military commanders for the UK to quickly join international air strikes in Iraq and Syria and not to rule out sending in ground troops.
The pressure for involvement increased further after Australian leader Tony Abbott yesterday approved the deployment of eight F A 18 Super Hornet jets, surveillance aircraft, refuelling tankers and transport planes together with 600 troops to the region. Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox said Britain should use lethal force against extremists and be prepared to launch air strikes ‘sooner rather than later’ in both Iraq and Syria.
Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said it was ‘time for retribution’ and to ‘kill their barbaric fighters.’ Lord Dannatt, the former head of the Army, urged Mr Cameron to join international strikes against Islamic State ‘in the strongest possible way’.
Speaking after a meeting of the UK emergency committee Cobra, Mr Cameron remained cautious as he said of IS ‘they are not Muslims, they are monsters’. He added: ‘We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes.’
On the video released on Saturday night, Jihadi John launched a personal tirade against the Prime Minister. Holding a knife in his left hand and with his right on the shoulder of Mr Haines, he declared: ‘This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga (Kurdish fighters) against Islamic State.’
Jihadi John’s new horror in desert: British hostage beheaded by terrorists in another sickening video
By IAN DRURY, DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT
The chilling video of the beheading of David Haines was almost identical to the films showing the murders of US hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
All three victims wore Guantanamo Bay-style orange boiler suits, were forced to kneel with their hands cuffed behind their backs and were decapitated in the desert by the knife-wielding, left-handed masked killer.
The horrific but slickly-produced film of 44-year-old Mr Haines’s terrifying last moments at the hands of the hooded Islamic State fanatic – dubbed Jihadi John – was uploaded to the internet late on Saturday.
CHILLING WORDS FROM THE VICTIM AND HIS KILLER
Clad in orange overalls, David Haines says: ‘My name is David Cawthorne Haines. I would like to declare that I hold you, David Cameron, entirely responsible for my execution. ‘You entered voluntarily into a coalition with the United States against the Islamic State, just as your predecessor Tony Blair did, following a trend amongst our British prime ministers who can’t find the courage to say no to the Americans. Unfortunately it is we, the British public, that in the end will pay the price for our Parliament’s selfish decisions.’ Pointing with a knife, Jihadi John says: ‘This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the [Kurdish] Peshmerga against the Islamic State.
‘Ironically, he has spent a decade of his life serving under the same Royal Air Force that is responsible for delivering those arms. Your evil alliance with America … will only accelerate your destruction, and playing the role of the obedient lapdog, Cameron, will only drag you and your people into another bloody and unwinnable war.’ The man then takes his knife to Mr Haines’s throat, before the aid worker’s dead body is shown. The video ends with the warning: ‘If you, Cameron, persist in fighting the Islamic State then you, like your master Obama, will have the blood of your people on your hands.’
THE VIDEO BEGINS
Lasting two minutes and 27 seconds, the video begins with a burst of static – imitating a movie scene where an important announcement is made on television. There follows a clip of David Cameron speaking in an interview in Downing Street on August 20 – the day after Mr Foley was murdered. The Prime Minister announces British weapons and ammunition will be delivered to the Kurdish Peshmerga to fight Islamic State. He insists the West will stop the ‘brutal extremist militants’ savaging Iraq and Syria. Both the Sotloff and Foley videos began with footage of Obama vowing to crush IS.
All three executions were filmed in an arid, deserted, hilly area with a blustery wind blowing. However, Mr Haines’s video has a bleak background, with far fewer geographical features – just a ridge behind the captive and killer – to identify where it was shot. It suggests that IS has learnt from the beheading video of Mr Foley, 40, which revealed a green plain in the distance below the hills and a dusty track. This information was enough to allow computer experts to pinpoint the exact location of the murder in the uplands south of IS’s stronghold of Raqqa in north-western Syria.
So far, the videos have been released approximately two weeks apart – Mr Foley’s on August 19 and 31-year-old Mr Sotloff’s on September 2. It is not clear precisely when Mr Haines’s film was recorded. His hair looked as if it had grown since he appeared at the end of the Sotloff beheading film, when the killer indicated the former RAF airman would be next unless the UK stopped supporting military action against IS. In the voiceover, the killer also refers to the US campaign of air strikes in Iraq, specifically the bombing of the Haditha dam in Anbar province. The US carried out at least nine air strikes in the first weekend of September. This indicates the three beheading videos were made at different times. It also contradicts some Western intelligence officials who claimed the men may have been murdered on the same day and the propaganda videos spaced out to generate more publicity.
Like Mr Sotloff and Mr Foley before him, Mr Haines is shown kneeling upright with hands cuffed behind his back and dressed in an outfit designed to mirror those worn by detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Standing to his left and slightly behind the hostage, the extremist is dressed in black hood and robes, a leather holster over both shoulders – rather than just one shoulder as in previous videos – with a pistol hanging under his left armpit.
Composed but clearly under duress, the kidnapped aid worker looks into the camera and says: ‘I hold you, David Cameron, entirely responsible for my execution.’ Again, this structure is identical to the last moments of the US journalists.
The footage cuts to the supposed murder shot. Mr Haines blinks quickly as if anticipating his fate. Brandishing the knife, the killer approaches his victim from behind and touches him on the right shoulder. The captive blinks, gulps, and imperceptibly shakes his head, as the jihadist snakes his right arm around and snatches Mr Haines by the chin. The hostage closes his eyes and appears to brace himself, as the killer saws at his neck with his left hand.
Next comes the grisly climax. The film returns to show the sickening sight of Mr Haines’s corpse lying in the dust on its front, hands manacled. His severed head is resting on his back. Again, this follows exactly the same pattern as the Foley and Sotloff murder videos.
The monster hiding behind a black mask
By IAN DRURY, HOME AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT
Mystery continues to surround the exact identity of the British jihadist believed to be responsible for beheading three innocent hostages, including British aid worker David Haines. Security experts believe the black-robed killer ranting on the video has a distinct English accent, rather than another British person dubbing over the footage. The jihadist wears a black mask, concealing all but his eyes, making it difficult to be sure the voice belonged to him. But audio experts have claimed they are ‘99 per cent’ certain the words were spoken by the man seen on camera. Intelligence sources are understood to have identified the fanatic whose voice is heard on videos of the murders of Mr Haines, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and are trying to track him down in Syria with state-of-the-art military technology.
Jihadi John is thought to be one of 500 British Muslims fighting with IS to impose a caliphate in Syria and Iraq. Because of the devastating impact of air strikes on IS positions in northern Iraq, jihadist leaders are increasingly suspicious of Western fighters, amid fears they could be spies pinpointing enemy locations. But Jihadi John’s role in the latest murder suggests he remains a crucial member of the terror network and its propaganda war. Hostages freed earlier this year said the killer was one of three UK-born militants who held captives in Raqqa, Syria – who they nicknamed John, Paul and Ringo after members of The Beatles. Jihadi John is said to be the most intelligent of the trio. He has taken responsibility for communicating with the outside world via negotiations with the prisoners’ families and beheading videos. He also seems to have been in charge of security, reportedly ordering captives to be moved at least ten times to foil attempts to rescue them. Paul and Ringo are thought to have been more junior, but together with Jihadi John they carried out the most sadistic beatings. There were also French-speaking extremists among the guards, including at least one Belgian. But the British jihadists were the most feared because of their gruesome ‘taste for the macabre’, according to a freed French hostage. The violence included beatings, use of Taser guns, and waterboarding – a form of torture where water is poured over a cloth blocking the nose and mouth. They forced some of the Western prisoners to take part in mock killings – US journalist Mr Foley was forced to stand in a crucifix pose. The captives were also mostly kept underground in the dark, often shackled to one another. The first beheading video sent shockwaves across Britain as the killer spoke with a distinctive London twang and English appears to be his first language.
Linguistic experts believe the way he pronounced certain words, such as Iraqi place names, suggest he has a foreign language background – indicating his parents or grandparents may have come from the Middle East. He appears to have a skin tone consistent with African, Middle Eastern or South Asian descent. Academics claim Jihadi John has a multicultural East London accent, a kind of ‘new cockney’. The voice patterns will have been studied in painstaking detail by security chiefs desperate to glean his identity and match it with snippets of conversation picked up in Syria. Aircraft fitted with sophisticated equipment, which can ‘eavesdrop’ on conversations taking place tens of thousands of feet below, are listening to see if they can pick up a voice match – potentially leading them to the location of the terrorist.
However, his voice in the latest beheading video appears to be distorted, suggesting IS are trying to disguise it. Experts believe the killer is aged under 30. He is tall and slender, and appears to be left-handed. In the third beheading video his feet are not visible – different from footage of him murdering the two Americans when he wears modern desert boots. Ex-captives have described Jihadi John as intelligent, educated and a devout believer in radical Islamic teachings. He is thought to be behind a final email sent to James Foley’s family, dated August 12 – seven days before the journalist was beheaded. In a hate-filled message, the jihadis vowed to kill Mr Foley saying: ‘You [America] and your citizens will pay the price of your bombings! The first of which being the blood of the American citizen James Foley! He will be executed as a direct result of your transgressions towards us!’ Experts said the language, use of capital letters, poor grammar and spelling mistakes supported the belief that the email was written by a working-class militant from Britain. The fanatic has raged against Western foreign policy – in particular US air strikes on IS targets – in rants directed at Barack Obama and David Cameron in his beheading videos. He has referred to recent US attacks, such as the targeting of the Mosul Dam and Haditha Dam in Iraq, to make it clear that the films were shot shortly before their release. Jihadi John also appears to be motivated by a desire to fill IS’s coffers with ransom money, demanding £80million from Mr Foley’s family. European governments are believed to have paid millions of euros to free at least nine hostages held with Mr Haines and the Americans. The militant is said to have called for the release of female Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui, currently held in a US prison, as part of a deal to free Mr Foley.
SO, WHAT ARE THE MILITARY OPTIONS?
David Cameron has insisted Britain will use ‘military prowess’ to defeat the brutal Islamic State extremists. But how exactly could the UK deploy its armed forces?
If air strikes in Iraq and Syria are sanctioned then the RAF Typhoons used in Libya three years ago are likely to be used again.
Dozens of SAS and SBS men are on the ground in Iraq, Kurdistan and Jordan. They could be involved in a complex joint rescue operation with US and Australian forces.
The safest way of eliminating IS leaders is by drone. President Obama will reportedly approve a strike on Jihadi John if drone operators find him. Britain’s Reapers can hit a postage stamp from 50,000 feet.
BOOTS ON THE GROUND
The most unlikely – and unpopular – option with a massive risk of sustaining casualties or having soldiers taken hostage. The most likely scenario would see troops deployed as trainers in Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Iraq or in Baghdad.