Alan Henning kidnapping: Family receives audio file of Isis hostage 'pleading for his life'

Wife Barbara Henning appeals to Isis captors to 'see it in their hearts' to release him

The wife of Alan Henning, the British volunteer aid worker who is being held by Isis, has said she received an audio file from her husband pleading for his life.

Barbara Henning renewed her plea to his captors, who call themselves Islamic State, to release him. The message came just hours after the US made the first air strikes on Syria, including Raqqa, the Isis stronghold where Mr Henning is believed to be held. 

In the statement, released just before 10pm through the Foreign Office, Mrs Henning said her husband had been to a sharia court and cleared of “being a spy and declared to be no threat”. 

“I implore Islamic State to abide by the decisions of their own justice system,” she added.

Mr Henning, a 47-year-old Manchester taxi driver, was kidnapped last December while in Syria. He appeared at the end of an Isis video that showed the beheading of a fellow British captive, David Haines, an aid worker.

Since then more details have emerged of his humanitarian efforts and friendships built with Muslim communities inside Syria and the UK. Last week Mrs Henning appealed to Isis to “see it in their hearts” to release him.

This was followed by a series of pleas by more than 100 high-profile Muslim leaders warning Isis that the threats are against sharia law.  A statement to The Independent this month was signed by dozens of imams from across the UK as well as community leaders appealing to Isis to release the aid worker unharmed or commit the “worst condemnable sin” against Islam.

In her statement Mrs Henning said: “We are at a loss why those leading Islamic State cannot open their hearts and minds to the facts surrounding Alan's imprisonment and why they continue to threaten his life.”

She added: “We have seen Muslims across the globe question Islamic State over Alan's fate. The voices of the people have spoken out loud and clear. He was working with Muslims to help the most vulnerable within Syria. Nothing has changed. He went to Syria to help his Muslim friends deliver much-needed aid.”

News of the audio file came at the end of a dramatic day following the US-led air strikes inside Syria, in a campaign which the Pentagon said “could last years”.

Mr Henning's brother-in-law expressed fears that the air strikes could make it harder to find and rescue Mr Henning, the father of two children.

Colin Livesey said he was scared that the jihadists who have threatened to kill Mr Henning would flee the military assault with his relative.

“It does scare me. Because if they're going to do air strikes on them, they'll just run away,” he said. “They'll take him with them and no one will know where he is again. Time will tell if it's worked. I don't want to lose the faith in knowing he's coming home.”

Statement in full

“The Henning family have issued the following message to the people holding Alan Henning.

I am Barbara Henning the wife of Alan Henning.

I have a further message for Islamic State.

An audio file of Alan pleading for his life has just been received by me.

I and people representing me continue to reach out to those holding Alan.

Islamic State continue to ignore our pleas to open dialogue.

I have seen Muslims across the globe question Islamic State over Alan's fate. The voices of the people have spoken out loud and clear. He was working with Muslims to help the most vulnerable within Syria. Nothing has changed. He went to Syria to help his Muslim friends deliver much needed aid.

We are at a loss why those leading Islamic State cannot open their hearts and minds to the facts surrounding Alan's imprisonment and why they continue to threaten his life.

I have been told that he has been to a Sharia Court and found innocent of being a spy and declared to be no threat. I implore Islamic State to abide by the decisions of their own justice system.

Please release Alan.”

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