Alan Henning (15 August 1967 – c. 3 October 2014) was an English taxicab driver-turned-volunteer humanitarian aid worker. He was the fourth Western hostage killed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) whose killing was publicised in a beheading video.
15 August 1967|
Eccles, Lancashire, England
|Died||c 3 October 2014 (aged 47)|
|Cause of death||Murder by Beheading|
Henning was captured during ISIL's occupation of the Syrian city of Al-Dana in December 2013. He was there helping provide humanitarian relief. The British Foreign Office withheld news of Henning's capture while it attempted to negotiate his release.
When he was captured, Henning was a driver for the organisation Rochdale Aid 4 Syria. Rochdale Aid 4 Syria campaigned for the release of Al Qaeda terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, currently serving an 86-year prison sentence. The group even named projects in her honour. Rochdale Aid 4 Syria was condemned fiercely by the local MP Simon Danczuk. Rochdale Aid 4 Syria also raised money on behalf of Al-Fatiha Global, a British-based organisation which claimed to provide humanitarian aid to those caught up in warzones. Al-Fatiha Global is a registered charity which was under investigation by the Charity Commission after one of its workers was photographed with his arms around two hooded fighters carrying machine guns. Al-Fatiha Global said that worker had been dismissed. Al Qaeda member Adam Gadahn condemned the beheading.
Henning was shown at the end of David Cawthorne Haines's execution video, released on 13 September 2014, and was referred to as being the next victim by Mohammed Emwazi, the media described as "Jihadi John" of the ISIL cell described as The Beatles. A video of Henning's beheading was released on 3 October 2014. After his murder, British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered MI5, MI6, and GCHQ to track and kill or capture the killer. Emwazi was killed in a drone strike in 2015.
Henning was a cab driver in Salford, Greater Manchester, in North West England before he travelled to Syria in December 2013 to be a volunteer aid worker. He lived in Eccles, Greater Manchester. There has also been a fundraising page set up to help his family.
In December 2013 Henning was part of a team of volunteers delivering goods and funds to people affected by Syria's civil war. He was abducted on 26 December 2013 by masked gunmen, according to other people in his aid convoy.
Before his throat is slit, Henning appears on camera, seemingly handcuffed behind his back and in a kneeling position, next to a knife-wielding masked man (Jihadi John, of the ISIL cell known as The Beatles). Henning speaks, referencing the British Parliament's decision to participate in a coalition of countries, such as the United States, that have banded together to bomb the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the killing as "absolutely appalling" and "completely unforgivable" and vowed to do everything to defeat ISIL. He described Henning as a man of great peace, kindness and gentleness, saying: "He went with many Muslim friends out to do no more than simply help other people. His Muslim friends will be mourning him at this special time of Eid and the whole country is mourning with them."
On 5 October 2014, prayers were said for Henning in churches across Bolton. The Bishop of Bolton Rt Rev Chris Edmondson said: "This is the most horrific, brutal and barbaric act. Leaders of Christian and Muslim faiths have universally condemned this act." Bolton Interfaith Council and Bolton Council of Mosques, who had held a vigil for Henning before news of his death, said they would continue to pray for him. A special service of remembrance was held at Eccles Parish Church, attended by Henning's widow. A memorial fund had been set up, by friend and fellow aid-worker Shameela Islam-Zulfiqar, with the aim of raising £20,000. By 9 October 2014, £30,000 had been raised by the Muslim community and would be used to help support Henning's family. A further memorial service was held on 12 October at the British Muslim Heritage Centre, organised by friends and humanitarian aid colleagues of Henning, attracting over 600 people.
The Salafi Muslims of the UK also condemned the murder of Alan Henning noting that ISIS has violated Islam's respect for covenants and that ISIS had also mistreated Henning and the Muslims captured along with him. While a London-based follower of Omar Bakri, Mizanur Rahman (aka Abu Baraa), justified the killing. Mizanur Rahman however was strongly criticised by Salafi Muslims.
On 15 October 2014, Labour MP Barbara Keeley, speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, called for a national honour to recognise Henning's sacrifice, and for support for his widow and children. David Cameron agreed and said he would look carefully at her suggestion.
In an al Qaeda magazine interview, terrorist leader Adam Gadahn condemned ISIS and the execution of Alan Henning, saying that al Qaeda had pleaded for his release and saying ISIS will be punished in the afterlife.
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- Charity Commission investigates aid charity over alleged Syrian fighter links, Celina Ribeiro, Civil Society Media Ltd, 4 April 2014
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- Muslim community in Bolton raised £30,000 in memory of British aid worker, The Independent, accessed 11 October 2014.
- "Alan Henning memorial service held in Manchester". BBC News.
- "Moazzam Begg: I offered to help secure release of Alan Henning". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
- AbdulHaq al-Ashanti (2014). "The Killing of Alan Henning: Mizanur Rahman Abu Baraa and his Errors in the Covenant of Security and the Definition of a Combatant in the Sharee'ah" (pdf).
- "Cameron on Alan Henning: 'We have lost a local hero'". BBC News.
- The Killing of Alan Henning: Refutation of Abu Baraa (PDF), London: SalafiManhaj.com, UK.