Skip to main content

Islamic State claims murder of British hostage in latest video

Latest IS video reportedly shows militants murdering British hostage Alan Henning
British aid worker Alan Henning as seen in latest IS video. An image grab taken from a video released by IS (AFP)

The British aid worker, Alan Henning, appears to have been murdered in Syria by his Islamic State captors, the group claimed late on Friday. 

According to a video released by the group, Henning has been executed, becoming the fourth western hostage to be killed by the group. All the four previous western IS victims were beheaded. A fifth French hostage, Herve Gourdel, was also beheaded last week in Algeria by Jund al-Khilifa, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, a group expressing solidarity with IS. 

Authorities, however, say they are still authenticating the footage. 

Henning, 47, a taxi driver from Greater Manchester - who volunteered to go on an aid convoy to Syria in December 2013 - has been held for nine months. IS first issued a statement insisting that he would be the next one to be executed three weeks ago. Some social media, citing IS sources, has claimed that he could have been killed as early as 20 September, although these reports are unconfirmed. 

In the video, Henning is heard saying: “I am Alan Henning. 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.”

A voice then adds: “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 US first launched airstrikes on IS positions in Iraq in August and has since expanded its operations into Syria. The UK has been providing assistance to Iraqi authorities fighting IS for months, but Parliament only voted to begin striking IS from the air in Iraq last week. 

Hopes were raised last month after Henning's wife received a recording from IS, saying that Henning had been cleared of espionage charges and was declared “to be no threat”.

Holy day of Arafah

The video of his killing was released on the day of Arafat, one of the holiest days of the Muslim calendar, in which Muslims around the world gather to fast and pray. The day is supposed to focus on repentance for worldly sins. 

IS has now threatened to execute another American hostage, who is seen being dragged out toward the end of the video.

While the hostage was initially identified as Peter Kassig by unnamed US officials, this claim has since been retracted and the name of the hostage remains unknown. 

The video also comes hours after the elderly father of another British IS hostage, John Cantlie, released a video from his hospital bed, begging the group to release his photojournalist son. 

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.