The terrorist group ISIS released a video yesterday showing yet another beheading, this time 44-year-old British aid worker David Haines. The executioner stated that Haines was paying the price for the promise of British Prime Minister David Cameron “to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State.” Britain’s Foreign Office released a statement today stating that “all signs are the video is genuine.” Cameron has labeled Haines’ beheading “an act of pure evil.” President Barack Obama condemned it as a “barbaric murder.”
The beheading of American journalist James Foley, who was captured in November 2012, was released on Aug. 19. Steven Sotloff, another U.S. journalist who disappeared in August 2013, was beheaded in a video released by by the terrorist group on Sept. 2.
The most recent video shows a new focus on Britain by ISIS, who titled this film “A Message to the Allies of America.” Previous beheading videos were titled “A Message to America.” The executioner, referred to as “Jihadi John,” has been seen in the previous murder videos as well. In this video he addresses Cameron directly, accusing him of being an “obedient lap dog” of the U.S. and maintaining an “evil alliance with America” that strikes the Muslims of Iraq. He tells Cameron that he will drag his people into another unwinnable and bloody war.
The most recent video is similar to those previously released in that they are outdoors in a featureless desert area. However, the background scenery in this video is much more tightly zoomed in, revealing fewer clues as to the location. The video begins with television news footage of Cameron defending the British foreign policy in Iraq and pledging to help the Kurds fight off “these brutal, extremist militants” by supplying them with arms. Haines is shown kneeling on the ground, dressed in loose orange clothing that is reminiscent of the jumpsuits worn by detainees of Guantanamo Bay. The British aid worker delivers an apparently prepared commentary blaming Cameron for his execution. He kept his composure while delivering the scripted statement.
The video was posted to Twitter just hours after Haines’ family issued a plea for his captors to contact him. Haines is believed to have been kidnapped by a group which sold him to ISIS later. His identify was kept secret for 19 months to try and increase the chances of his safe release. His whereabouts were revealed this month in the video showing the murder of Sotloff. The executioner, believed to be the same “Jihadi John,” stated that Haines would be the next to be murdered if the West did not halt operations against ISIS.
The British aid worker had worked for agencies in other world trouble spots. After serving in the British Royal Air Force he provided aid to conflict victims in Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East. He was married, with two children. Haines’ brother, Mike, described him as “most alive and enthusiastic in his humanitarian roles.” He said his brave brother was “murdered in cold blood.”
The video ends with an image of Alan Henning, a British humanitarian who, according to acquaintences, was taken captive in northern Syria. The executioner is standing over Henning, who is also kneeling in orange clothing, and threatens to kill him as well. The extremists are believed to also be holding another British citizen and two American aid workers captive. Families have asked that the captives’ names not be released because ISIS has warned they will be killed if their identities are made public.
By Beth A. Balen