A video posted on Friday by militants in Syria and Iraq appears to depict the beheading of Alan Henning, a British aid worker. The British and U.S. governments quickly condemned the actions shown on the video, titled “Another Message to America and its Allies.” This is the fourth video by the pro-Islamic State group that shows the beheading of a hostage and the second of a British aid worker.
The footage appeared on YouTube and was featured on Twitter feeds of pro-Islamic State fighters. As in others, the video shows the victim in an orange jumpsuit kneeling beside a dagger-wielding man wearing a mask and dressed in black. The surroundings appear to be the same parched environment as in the other three videos released by the group. The man who is kneeling 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.”
British forces have begun to support the military actions against the Islamic State Group by the U.S. The British military is aiding in the gathering of intelligence and coordination of supplies and has begun joining the U.S. in airstrikes of Iraq. The video released Friday begins with a news story which announces that Britain has begun airstrikes against the group.
Referring to British Prime Minister David Cameron and to the British aid worker who was depicted on an earlier beheading video, a man with a British accent then says,”The blood of David Haines was on your hands, Cameron. Alan Henning will also be slaughtered, but his blood is on the hands of the British parliament.”
The video, which lasts for one minute and 11 seconds, ends with the black-clad man introducing another hostage, who is identified as an American named Peter Edward Kassig. Kassig’s parents have confirmed that their son, 26, was taken hostage while in Syria doing humanitarian work. Ed and Paula Kassig, who reside in Indianapolis, Indiana, asked for worldwide prayers for their son, Henning’s family and the release of hostages worldwide.
Henning, a married man with two children, was in Syria when he was abducted by gunmen last December. A taxi driver from the northern England town of Salford, he was stopped while taking part in an aid convoy that was transporting medical supplies to a Syrian hospital.
A U.S. Army Ranger, Peter Kassig served during the Iraq war for four months in 2007 before he was honorably discharged for medical reasons. He then worked as an emergency medical technician. In May of 2012, he volunteered in hospitals in Lebanon, treating refugees from Palestine and Syria.
In October of 2013, Peter Kassig worked for an organization he had founded in 2012. The non-governmental agency was located in southern Turkey and focused on treating Syrian refugees. He was headed to Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria when he was captured. While being held hostage, he began following Islam and adopted the name Abdul Rahman.
A statement by President Barack Obama condemned the murder of Henning and swore that the U.S. would work together with the U.K. and other allies to bring the people responsible for the beheadings to justice. U.S. officials report that there is no reason for them to doubt that the video is authentic. It is believed that the Islamic State has less than 10 hostages in captivity in Syria.
By Jennifer Pfalz