Alan Henning beheading: Aid worker was ‘convinced he would be released’

A fellow prisoner has revealed Mr Henning did not understand who his captors were

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Alan Henning, the British aid worker from Manchester murdered by Isis, was convinced that he would be freed from his captors, a fellow prisoner has revealed.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Seif al-Idlibi, an opposition activist who was held with Mr Henning when he was first captured by Isis (also known as Islamic State), said Mr Henning laughed and joked with the other prisoners, and “was not afraid”.

“He was very relaxed. He didn’t understand who his captors were and he was convinced he would be released soon.”

“Alan didn’t like the prison food they gave us. He joked that people can eat whatever they like in a British prison,” Mr Idlibi told the paper, and described how Mr Henning cried with empathy for his fellow prisoners when he thought he was being freed.

Thousands paid tribute to Mr Henning, who worked as a taxi driver, in his home town of Salford on Sunday.

Alan Henning's widow, Barbara, and their children, Lucy and Adam, attend a service of remembrance in Eccles Parish Church in Salford last night

Around 500 people attended a service where his humanitarian deeds were recounted during a prayer and reflection at Eccles parish church, where his widow Barbara and their children, Lucy and Adam, were present.

Mr Henning, who was kidnapped while travelling to Syria as part of a Muslim aid convoy with the intention of delivering toys and presents to Syrian children, was killed by Isis. The militant group informed the world of his murder by posting a video online of his apparent beheading on Friday.

Mr Idlibi, who shared a prison cell with Mr Henning, is the first person to reveal details of the aid worker’s treatment by Isis when he was captured in December 2013.

Mr Idlibi explained that the prisoners were kept in a heavily guarded prison cell and banned from using mobile phones.  

He described how Mr Henning was subjected to interrogation sessions three times in one night by a senior Isis leader and a masked British jihadist.

“This is an infidel [Isis] told us when they brought him in,” Mr Idlibi said, adding that Mr Henning did not understand the severity of their captors’ ideals. “He was not afraid – he thought it was just a regular security check and that he would be released soon.”

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But he said that after the interrogation, Mr Henning remained in good spirits, laughing when he was woken up by the other prisoners for his snoring, apologising and explaining that he had been awake for 24 hours.

The morning after Mr Henning’s interrogation, he was told to gather his things, and he believed he was being freed.

“He was crying with empathy when he said goodbye – he thought he was being freed and leaving us behind. We don’t know where they took him.”

Mr Henning was instead taken further into the Isis’ prison network, and Mr Idlibi believes he was transferred first to Aleppo and then to Raqqa.

Mr Idlibi was freed in January this year when the prison he was being held in was liberated by Syrian rebels, he told the paper.