David Haines Isis kidnapping: Family of British hostage appeal to militants to respond to contact attempts

Isis threatened to kill aid worker after beheading US journalist Steven Sotloff

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The Independent Online

The family of a British hostage threatened with beheading by the Islamic State (Isis) in Syria have pleaded with his captors to contact them.

David Haines, 44, was paraded in front of cameras following footage of the murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff.

The masked British militant known as “jihadi John”, believed to be the same man who decapitated James Foley, vowed to kill him next if the US and Western allies did not “back off” from operations against Isis in Iraq.

Mr Haines’ family have tried to make contact with his captors several times but have not received a response from Isis, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said.

In a statement, they said: “We are the family of David Haines.

"We have sent messages to you to which we have not received a reply. We are asking those holding David to make contact with us."

Mr Haines 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 working for the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (Acted) to support of tens of thousands of refugees.

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.

Their Syrian translator, who asked not be named, described how gunmen shot out the tyres of the car and surrounded them on a country road.

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.

His employers joined calls for his release last week, calling threats to his life “intolerable”.

“A man’s life should never be threatened on account of his humanitarian commitment,” a statement from Acted said.

Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, has said the FCO is doing ”everything“ they can to protect him.

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.”

Additional reporting by PA

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