A propaganda video showing the execution of kidnapped British aid worker David Haines by a militant from the Islamic States (formerly ISIS) has appeared on YouTube and other video sharing sites.
Haines, 44, was the third Western hostage to be executed by Islamic State militants in a series of videos designed to scare the US and its allies into backing away from intervention in Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State holds large swathes of territory.
After a career as an RAF engineer, Haines became an aid worker and worked in bringing aid and support to those in need in some of the world’s most dangerous places including Libya and South Sudan.
Haines was working for the French aid agency ACTED and helping co-ordinate the delivery of clean water, food, and shelter to the Syrians in refugee camps near Atmeh in the Idlib province, near the Syrian border with Turkey, when he was kidnapped on 12 March. He had only been in Syria ten days.
In the last week Haine’s family made a public plea to his kidnappers to open discussions to free him, but it fell on deaf ears.
In the video entitled “A message to America’s allies”, Haines is shown in an orange jumpsuit coerced into repeating a message blaming British Prime Minister David Cameron’s threats to act militarily against the Islamic State in Iraq for his death.
Images of Haines held in captivity by Islamic State militants appeared at the end of the previous IS execution video, showing the beheading of US reporter Steven Sotloff.
The Haines family released a statement following his murder, in which they said:
“He was and is loved by all his family and will be missed terribly.”
After reports of Haines’ execution emerged online, ACTED published a statement in which it said:
“ACTED aid agency is deeply appalled and horrified by the assassination of David Haines. ACTED strongly condemns with the utmost of force these crimes.
“In this tragic moment, our thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones. All of the ACTED team empathise and share their pain.
“David was a new member of the ACTED team supporting the emergency humanitarian response for the displaced Syrian people in Atmeh camp near to the Turkish border.
“David was appreciated by the ACTED team and all those around him, notably for his generosity, commitment, and his professionalism. Since his abduction, David has constantly been at the forefront of our minds and efforts. David will remain in the hearts and minds of everyone in ACTED.
“The horrible assassination of David, an aid worker, goes against all humanitarian principles and is a crime against humanity. This barbaric crime must not remain unpunished.”
Early investigations point to the execution site in the desert surrounding the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the Islamic State. Militants are believed to be holding a number of hostages in make-shift prisons in the city and the victims of both previous execution videos are believed to have been killed and buried in the surrounding area.