The wife of British hostage Alan Henning on Saturday pleaded with the Islamic State terror group to release her husband, describing him as a “peaceful and selfless man” who was only in Syria to help people in need.
“I don’t see how it could help the cause of any state by allowing the world to see a man like Alan die,” according to a message from Barbara Henning published by the British Foreign Office.
Alan Henning, a taxi driver near Manchester, England, was part of a team of volunteers who traveled to Syria in December to deliver food and water to people affected by the devastating civil war in that Middle Eastern countries.
He was abducted on Boxing Day by masked armed men, according to other people in the aid convoy.
In a filmed performance of British aid worker David Hainesmade public last weekend, ISIS flaunted Henning and threatened to kill him afterwards.
No response to messages
The Sunni extremist group, which controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, has already beheaded three Western captives in recent weeks – Haines, and American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
Videos of the executions indicated that US airstrikes against Islamic State forces in Iraq were the motivation. In the case of Haines, the militant group described the murder as “a message to America’s allies”.
Henning’s wife said her husband, a father of two, was only trying to do good in Syria.
“Alan is a peaceful and selfless man who left his family and his job as a taxi driver in the UK to drive a convoy to Syria with his Muslim colleagues and friends to help those most in need,” she said. declared in the declaration.
She expressed concern that her captors were not responding to her calls for her release.
“I tried to communicate with the Islamic State and the people who hold Alan. I sent very important messages but they did not receive a response.
In a filmed performance of aid worker David Hainesreleased last week, ISIS threatened to kill Henning if the United States continued its airstrikes targeting the group’s fighters in Iraq.
Islamic State has shown no regard in recent weeks for appeals from the families of its Western hostages.
Days before Foley’s murder was made public on August 19, his family sent a message to extremists, asking them to show mercy. But they never heard from them.
The week before The execution of Sotloff came to light, his mother posted a video imploring ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi not to kill him.
And news from Haines’ death came the same day his family issued a brief message to his captors through the UK Foreign Office.
She said her actions were an act of compassion.
“I pray that those holding Alan respond to my messages and contact me before it’s too late.
Prominent Muslim figures in the UK have also called for Henning’s release a video posted on YouTube in which they say that killing him is not permitted by Islamic law.
“Whatever your grievance against American or British foreign policy, executing this man is not the solution,” said Shaykh Haitham Al Haddad, judge at the Shariah Council in London. “We ask that you respect the Sharia which governs this case and release him immediately and unconditionally.”
The only non-Muslim
Henning, a father of two, was on his fourth trip to Syria with an aid convoy when he was abducted.
As part of the convoy stopped at the Turkish border, Henning – the only non-Muslim in the group – volunteered to cross into Syria with an advanced party of 10 people.
In a video shot that day, he explained part of his reason for answering the call for help. “It’s worth seeing that what’s needed actually gets where it needs to go,” he said before embracing a colleague.
Henning was kidnapped the next day.
Dr. Shameela Islam-Zulfiqar, a volunteer doctor who stayed behind the main part of the convoy at the Turkish border, said he received a phone call that Henning had been taken away by masked gunmen.
“We thought it was just a temporary measure, he being a non-Muslim and obviously English,” she said. “We thought they were going to interrogate him and let him go.”
The other members of the convoy thought “they were just going to question him more and then they would let him go,” she said. But amid clashes between ISIS and rival rebel factions in the region, that has not happened.
“He is not guilty”
Now Islam-Zulfiqar says she has a message for the people holding Henning.
“As your sister in Islam, I implore and plead with you: please spare the life of this innocent man,” she said. “He is not part of your fight. He is not responsible for the actions of the Western governments you are fighting against.
CAGE, a Muslim-led human rights group in London, also called for Henning’s immediate release, saying he was not involved in any hostility against Muslims.
But unlike other appeal groups, CAGE called on the UK government to negotiate with the hostage takers.
Asim Qureshi, CAGE’s research director, told CNN on Sunday that the release of Turkish and mainland European hostages through negotiations “should act as a wake-up call for the British government.”
He‘is called ‘Gadget’
Islam-Zulfiqar said other members of the convoy gave Henning the affectionate nickname “Gadget”, for his love of all things technical.
“He’s really the fix-it guy,” she told CNN.
In Henning’s hometown of Eccles in northern England, supporters tied yellow ribbons to lampposts and road signs. None of his co-workers at the taxi company nor any of the neighbors on his street were willing to speak to the media.
Islam-Zulfiqar says the situation is really difficult: “We know that time is running out.
When asked how people should think of Henning in this hour of need, she mentioned his smile, his concern for those around him, and “his beautiful, beautiful heart of gold.”