British hostage’s 
wife calls 
for mercy 
from IS

The wife of British hostage Alan Henning has called on “the people of the Islamic State to see it in their hearts to release my husband”, describing him as a “peaceful, selfless man”.

Mr Henning, a former taxi driver from Manchester, was kidnapped last December in Syria by Islamic State (IS) militants.

The 47-year-old aid worker was shown at the end of a video last week after the beheading of fellow British captive David Haines.

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Mr Henning’s wife Barbara said she has sent messages to IS asking them to release her husband but has had no response.

In a statement released through the Foreign Office she said: “Alan is a peaceful, selfless man who left his family and his job as a taxi driver in the UK to drive in a convoy all the way to Syria with his Muslim colleagues and friends to help those most in need.

“When he was taken he was driving an ambulance full of food and water to be handed out to anyone in need.

“His purpose for being there was no more and no less. This was an act of sheer compassion.

“I cannot see how it could assist any State’s cause to allow the world to see a man like Alan dying.”

It is the first time Mr Henning’s family has issued a public statement since he was threatened in the IS video earlier this month.

The Islamic extremists have previously released footage showing the killing of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

A separate video released this week showed British photojournalist John Cantlie sitting at a desk reading from a prepared script and explaining that he would speak about IS in future videos. There was no threat to kill Mr Cantlie made on camera.

A series of pleas for the release of Mr Henning have been made by high-profile Muslim leaders in recent days, warning IS that the killings and threats are against Sharia law.

Renowned Jihadi ideologue Muhammed al-Maqdisi and the family of jailed Pakistani scientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui, nicknamed “Lady al Qaida”, whose release has been demanded by IS extremists, have also called for Mr Henning to be freed.

Asked how he felt the UK should respond to the threat from IS, Labour leader Ed Miliband told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “My judgment about this is that we have got to make sure we assemble an alliance right across the world – including in the region – to counter them.

“That means action in Iraq to include the Sunni minorities that have often felt excluded. It means mobilising the region.

“We supported the US action but it needs a political, diplomatic, humanitarian alliance as well to counter them.”

The Labour leader added: “We have learnt the lessons from the Iraq War, which is that military action has got to be a last resort.”

He added that any actions had to be backed by international law and had the support of international and regional powers and that there was a plan with clear objectives.