- Insider or official may have tipped off terrorists that Briton was in Syria
- Mr Henning was seized by fanatics just four miles from Turkish border
- A group linked to Al-Qaeda said kidnap was ‘wrong’ and ‘counter-productive’
- British special forces have no idea where British taxi driver is being held
- Defence Secretary admitted lack of intelligence at Paris summit on ISIS
and David Williams
and Andy Dolan
and James Tozer for the Daily Mail
and Sam Webb
and Richard Spillett for MailOnline
01:40 GMT, 16 September 2014
10:21 GMT, 16 September 2014
ISIS were ‘tipped off’ about British hostage Alan Henning’s aid mission to Syria and seized him just half an hour after he entered the country, it has emerged.
Details of his capture came to light as it was revealed that even Al-Qaeda, the terror group behind the September 11 attacks, have pleaded with ISIS for his release.
Father-of-two Mr Henning, from Eccles, Salford, travelled to the war-torn region with charity workers in December but was kidnapped and now faces execution at the hands of terrorist ‘Jihadi John’.
The speed of his capture after crossing the border has led security services to investigate whether ISIS fighters were tipped off by corrupt local officials or an insider.
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Al-Qaeda reportedly approached ISIS in an attempt to get British hostage Alan Henning (front row, second from right) released because the kidnapping was ‘wrong under Islamic law’and ‘counter-productive’
Alan Henning, currently being held hostage by ISIS in Syria, joined the aid mission after seeing the suffering of ordinary Syrians on TV
The Sun reports that the British aid worker was four miles from the Turkish border when he was taken after militants were reportedly made aware of his arrival by a crooked Syrian official.
His friend Martin Shedwisk said: ‘Someone could have tipped them off because it was well-documented they were heading out.
‘It’s a journey they’d made before, so the risk gets higher every time. It’s entirely possible someone could have been waiting for them.’
Claims of a tip-off emerged after it was reported that a commander of the Al Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front in Syria approached ISIS and argued Mr Henning’s innocence.
The terror group’s intervention was revealed by U.S. film-maker Bilal Abdul Kareem, who has reported from Syria and met their commander.
He told The Independent that the group’s leader said to ISIS officials: ‘Look, what you are doing is wrong. You have no right to abduct him. You have no right to detain him just because he is not Muslim.’
Taxi driver Mr Henning, 47, was described by friends as a compassionate man who was so moved by earlier humanitarian visits to Syria that he gave up his family Christmas to join one final aid convoy.
He was captured by ISIS fighters in the border town of Al Dana with several colleagues. Everyone else was freed within a few hours.
The militants accused Mr Henning of being a spy on the grounds that no white Christian would come to Syria for any other reason, according to Bilal Abdul Kareem.
Intelligence officers are desperately trying to locate the 47-year-old taxi driver (left) before ISIS’s British executioner, known as Jihadi John, carries out his implied threat to kill him
The extremists even claimed that the computer microchip in his UK passport allowed MI6 to track his movements – despite British Muslims in the convoy pointing out that their travel documents had the same feature.
Mr Kareem said: ‘One of the aid workers told them that the people rely on these convoys. The Isis commander replied: “We don’t need convoys, we have Allah”.’
The captors also threatened to try to use Mr Henning as a bargaining chip to secure the release of a Muslim prisoner held in a UK jail.
Religious leaders from other groups tried to negotiate his release but were unsuccessful. When the Islamic State’s positions in Al Dana came under attack from other rebels, Mr Henning was moved.
Nothing more was heard until Saturday, when he appeared kneeling in a desert in an orange jumpsuit at the end of a chilling video showing the execution of British aid worker David Haines.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond also revealed yesterday that British special forces cannot Mr Henning because they don’t know where he is.
Alan Henning, pictured on one of his aid trips. The captors threatened to try to use Mr Henning as a bargaining chip to secure the release of a Muslim prisoner held in a UK jail
Intelligence officers are desperately trying to locate him before the British murderer known as Jihadi John carries out his threat to kill him.
Military commanders have been asked to draw-up potential ‘high risk’ rescue plans but Mr Hammond admitted that the lack of information about Western hostages’ whereabouts is stopping the Government from ordering an operation deep inside Syria.
‘If we knew where they were, it would be a different story, but we don’t,’ he said.
Mr Hammond said at a summit in Paris to discuss the IS threat, that it was ‘a terrible time’ for the Henning family and that the Government was ‘doing everything we can to protect him’.
But he added: ‘They understand the limitations of our abilities and that we are dealing with a very barbaric organisation whose values are completely different to ours.
British military and intelligence officials are making frantic efforts to find him. But his captors are thought to be holding him and other Western hostages in a network of tunnels under the city of Raqqa and moving them regularly.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the Government did not know where Western hostages were being held my militant group Islamic State
‘CALM CAPTIVES DO NOT KNOW THEY ARE ABOUT TO DIE’
The hostages in Islamic State execution videos appear calm because they do not realise they are about to die, according to a former captive.
French war reporter Didier Francois, who was released by the terrorists earlier this year, said that prisoners were threatened with execution ‘several times’ and IS militants carried out macabre mock crucifixions.
Commenting on why the hostages, including Briton David Haines, pictured right, remained calm even seconds before their deaths, the journalist said: ‘They did not realise that this time it was the real thing’.
Mr Francois, 53, of Paris-based radio station Europe 1, and three other French journalists were freed in April near the Syrian-Turkish border.
The French government has denied that a ransom of $18million (£11million) was paid to end their ten-month captivity, but many believe the cash was paid through middlemen, including private companies and Turkish secret agents.
Surveillance aircraft and electronic warfare units believe they have located the prison that IS forces are using, but cannot confirm that Western hostages are there.
Now a team of SAS and SBS officers are working closely with American special forces and Kurdish Peshmerga intelligence to formulate different rescue scenarios.
A source said: ‘Most rescues involve a deception and attacking multiple targets in order to gain surprise and a tactical advantage, but from we know Raqqa is in lock down.’
Al-Fatiha Global is at the centre of investigations by the Charity Commission into claims it had links with people supporting the fighting in Syria.
An activist for the Worcester-based charity was allegedly photographed in the summer of 2013 embracing two masked Syrian fighters armed with AK47 weapons.
Mohammed Shafiq, of the moderate Ramadhan Foundation, said he warned Mr Henning of the dangers of entering Syria just weeks before his abduction.
It has been suggested Mr Henning is being kept in tunnels beneath the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa (pictured)
He also voiced fears that some young Britons wanting to become jihadis had ‘tagged along’ with aid convoys as a way of joining IS.
He said: ‘The vast majority of people I know of who’ve been on the convoys are ordinary law-abiding Muslims who want to help the Syrian people.
‘Ninety-five per cent leave the aid at the Syrian border and go home, but of those who go into Syria some may have tagged along in order to join up with Isis.’
The Charity Commission launched a statutory inquiry – the highest level of its investigations – into Al-Fatiha Global in March. It is looking at ‘serious concerns about the governance and financial management of the charity’.
Al Fatiha Global is run by trustees Michael Lloyd, 70, and Mumtaz Ali, 55, both of Worcester. They declined to comment yesterday.
A video of Mr Henning emerged yesterday,appearing to show him helping to load aid parcels on to vans for Al Fatiha Global, at a depot near Bradford in March.
AID WORKER’S WIDOW IS STRUGGLING TO COPE
Struggling to cope: Dragana Haines
The widow of British aid worker David Haines is said to be struggling to cope.
Dragana Haines, 44, is said to be ‘in bits’ and has not left home since learning her husband was beheaded by Islamic State.
A close friend said: ‘She has said these past few days have been the most difficult in her life. All her friends have sent her condolence messages, but she is struggling to cope.
‘Her daughter is only four. What can she tell her daughter?
‘I expected this to happen. I was prepared for it. I don’t know if Dragana was… I don’t know how she feels about the fact [Britain] didn’t pay a ransom.’
Mrs Haines, a social media editor, is being comforted by her mother at her home near the capital, Zagreb.
Another friend said she is putting on a ‘brave face’ for daughter Athea, who does not know her father was decapitated.
And neighbour Dubravka Kukic said: ‘He could never sit back and see people in need. It is a shame that the terrorists did not have the same sympathy.’
‘Rescues’ that did not match the rhetoric
David Cameron has vowed to hunt down the ‘monsters’ who murdered David Haines and are holding taxi driver Alan Henning.
He promised to do everything possible to free the 47-year-old father of two. But the rhetoric rarely matches the reality – as these tragic cases show.
Ken Bigley, 62
Kidnapped in Baghdad on September 16, 2004. Jihadis said he would die unless Iraqi women held by Coalition forces were released. Tony Blair said ‘everything possible’ was being done to secure the release of the civil engineer, who was shown on a video begging for his life. Mr Bigley was beheaded in a clip posted online on October 7.
Margaret Hassan was shot dead after she was abducted in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2004
Margaret Hassan, 59
Abducted in Baghdad on October 19, 2004. She was shown in a video saying she did not ‘want to die like Mr Bigley’. Tony Blair said ‘obviously we will do whatever we can’ – but she was shot in a video released on November 16, 2004. Her family said the gang called her husband four times from her mobile, asking to talk to the British Embassy. He begged officials to negotiate, but they refused.
Edwin Dyer, 61
A tourist seized in January 2009 in Niger, West Africa. He was sold on to Al Qaeda in Mali, who said they would kill him unless hate cleric Abu Qatada was freed from a British prison. Foreign Secretary David Miliband said ‘strenuous efforts’ were made, but the sales manager from Reading, Berkshire, was beheaded in June 2009. The kidnappers blamed the Government’s refusal to negotiate. Gordon Brown said they would be hunted down.
Linda Norgrove, 36
Taken in Afghanistan’s Kunar province in September 2010. The Taliban demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist jailed in the US for links to Al Qaeda. Ministers assured her family ‘everything possible’ was being done. But she was killed by a grenade in a failed US rescue mission.
David Haines, 44
Captured by Islamic State in March 2013. A news blackout was imposed until he was shown in a video of the murder of a US journalist. Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond said after his capture: ‘We have to deal with [the Islamic State] based on the wider threat they pose to the British public, as well as to this individual.’ He was beheaded on September 13.
Paul and Rachel Chandler, 61 and 56
Kidnapped from a yacht in the Indian Ocean in October 2009. Pirates demanded a multi-million pound ransom. Foreign Secretary David Miliband said despite refusing to pay, the government was fighting for their release. The Chandlers, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, were freed more than a year later after a £500,000 ransom was paid by the family. Paul Chandler said if they hadn’t paid, ‘we’d still be there. And the Foreign Office would be happy.’