Islamic State (IS) extremists released a video showing the beheading of British aid worker David Haines, who was abducted in Syria last year.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who on late Saturday condemned this slaying as “an act of pure evil”, confirmed Haines’ death in a statement after the British Foreign Office had said earlier that it was “working urgently to verify the video.”
“We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes,” Mr.Cameron said.
Mr. Cameron returned to his residence at 10 Downing Street shortly after midnight and is expected to chair a meeting of the government’s emergency response committee on early Sunday.
The video emerged a day after Haines’ family issued a public plea on Friday urging his captors to contact them.
The Foreign Office said it was offering Haines’ family “every support possible.”
IS militants >recently beheaded two American journalists , James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and posted the videos online after the U.S. began launching airstrikes and humanitarian missions in August to aid waning Iraqi and Kurdish security forces in northern Iraq. The IS group has also put out videos showing the beheading of Kurdish and Lebanese soldiers and the mass shooting of dozens of captured Syrian soldiers.
At the end of the video showing the beheading of Sotloff, the Islamic State group threatened to kill Haines next and briefly showed him on camera.
President Barack Obama issued a statement strongly condemning “the barbaric murder” of Haines by the Islamic State terrorist group.
“The United States stands shoulder to shoulder tonight with our close friend and ally in grief and resolve. We will work with the United Kingdom and a broad coalition of nations from the region and around the world to bring the perpetrators of this outrageous act to justice, and to degrade and destroy this threat to the people of our countries, the region and the world,” Mr. Obama said.
On Wednesday, Mr. Obama gave a nationally televised speech outlining a potential military campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the IS militants that is likely to include training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels and Iraqi forces, providing intelligence, and expanding airstrikes against extremists in Iraq and potentially into Syria. Britain was among the initial group of countries joining the U.S.-led coalition to root out the IS extremists.
In the video showing Haines’ slaying, the group threatened to kill another British captive. Both British men were dressed in orange jumpsuits against an arid Syrian landscape, similar to that seen in the Foley and Sotloff videos.
The SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S. terrorism watchdog, reported the video, which was also posted online by users associated with the IS group.
Haines’ killer, who appeared to be the same masked man speaking with a British accent and brandishing a knife as in the previous videos, tells the British government that its alliance with the U.S. will only “accelerate destruction” and will drag the British people into “another bloody and unwinnable war”.
In the video, according to a transcript provided by SITE, Haines says that he holds Mr. Cameron “entirely responsible for my execution” because Britain has “voluntarily entered into a coalition with the United States against the Islamic state.”
The British government had managed to keep Haines’ kidnapping secret out of concern for his safety until the Sotloff beheading video identified him as a captive and the next victim.
On Friday, Haines’ family issued a public plea urging his captors to contact them.
In a short statement released through Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the family said: “We are asking those holding David to make contact with us.”