David Haines Isis kidnapping: British hostage's aid agency calls for his release after 'intolerable' threat to behead father-of-two

Mr Haines was abducted by Islamic State militants in Syria last year

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The Independent Online

The aid agency that David Haines was working for when he was abducted by Islamic State (Isis) militants in Syria has called for his release, calling threats to his life “intolerable”.

The 44-year-old was paraded in front of cameras wearing orange overalls in a video showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff last week.

His killer, a British militant known as “jihadi John”, threatened to kill Mr Haines next if the US and Western allies did not “back off” from operations against Isis in Iraq.

Mr Haines’ employers at the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (Acted) said they were “deeply shocked” by the images.

“The threats on David Haines’ life are intolerable,” a statement said.

“More than ever, we are pursuing our efforts, and our thoughts are with David and his family.

“Acted strongly condemns the violence and threats against David.

“A man’s life should never be threatened on account of his humanitarian commitment.

“Once again, we call upon the immediate release of David.”

The threat was made in a video showing the murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff

He has worked in humanitarian aid since 1999, helping victims of conflict in the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East.

When he was taken hostage in March last year, Mr Haines was in Syria as part of Acted’s humanitarian effort in support of tens of thousands of refugees.

Mr Haines’ identity had been kept secret for 19 months to avoid worsening his situation as a captive but the kidnapping was made public following the video’s release.

He was abducted alongside an Italian colleague while travelling in a car through northern Syria in March last year on the way to safety at the Turkish border.

They were in the final hours of a three-day tour to assess locations for new refugee camps.

The Syrian civil war has displaced thousands of refugees, seen her in a camp in Hatay, Turkey

Their Syrian translator, who asked not be named, said the four-strong group were driving back via Aleppo and had taken a shorter route along a farm road when Isis gunmen appeared.

He said: “Two very fast cars came up behind – one overtook and the other stayed behind. They shouted at us to get out of the car in formal Arabic.

“They were wearing black masks and were so professional.

“They knew that two of us were Syrians and they knew who else was in the car.

“One of them put a gun to my head and threatened me not to tell anyone what I had seen.

“They put [Mr Haines and Mr Motka] in the boot of their car and shot out the tyres of our car.”

The translator said the kidnapping took place “in seconds”.

Mr Haines, a father of two daughters aged four and 17, was born in East Yorkshire but made his home in Croatia after marrying his second wife, Dragana Haines.

Speaking at the family’s home near Zagreb, the 44-year-old told The Telegraph: “He's everything to us. He's our life. He's a fantastic man and father.

“Nobody can understand how we are feeling.”