Family and nation mourn execution of volunteer by Islamic State terrorists

Sunetra Senior Monday 06th October 2014 11:07 EDT

Leicester-based aid volunteer Alan Henning was beheaded by IS terrorists on the night of 3rd October. Co-worker Majid Freeman was volunteering with Henning last Christmas when his friend was taken hostage. The two were bringing aid to Syria where it was Henning's fourth mission. Henning was a taxi-driver who 'went on several humanitarian missions to Syria after witnessing first-hand the devastating effects of war on innocent civilians.'

'Alan was a very courageous, selfless individual who always tried to help others' gushed Freeman. Suleman Nagdi, spokesman for the Federation of Muslim Organisations, said: 'If reports about the horrific murder of Alan Henning are proven to be true then we are indeed most saddened and heartbroken'. Freeman and Nagdi joined about 40 others at Leicester Clock Tower for a vigil arranged by teacher Riaz Khan that called for Henning's release. People held posters and staged a one-minute silence. Freeman discovered the video of Henning's execution later that night, just hours after the demonstration. Mr Khan said 'vigils such as the one held in Leicester must continue (…) we must carry on having these public demonstrations in the name of Alan Henning. He must not die in vain. The people must stand up and stand together to show that the killing must stop.'

Henning's wife had also appealed for the release of her husband earlier in the week saying quite simply 'he is innocent.' She said the family was trying to reach her husband's captors after hearing an audio message where he was begging for his life.

David Cameron said: 'the murder of Alan Henning is absolutely abhorrent, senseless, completely unforgivable (…) all the assets the government has will be used to try to find and help remaining hostages.'

President Barack Obama also commented, saying it was a 'brutal murder' and a 'great loss' to the Syrian people that he was trying to help. Dr Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim council tweeted: 'A despicable and offensive act. He helped Muslims. My thoughts and prayers with his family.'

In a recent video where a US aid worker was taken hostage, BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said there was a reference to last week's vote by Parliament to authorise air strikes against IS in Iraq. This may also have triggered the execution of Henning.

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter