Alan Henning

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Alan Henning
Born(1967-08-15)15 August 1967
Eccles, Lancashire, England
DisappearedDecember 2013
Al-Dana, Syria
Diedc 3 October 2014(2014-10-03) (aged 47)
Cause of deathMurder by beheading
OccupationTaxi driver
Aid worker

Alan Henning (15 August 1967 – c. 3 October 2014) was an English taxicab driver-turned-volunteer humanitarian aid worker.[1][2] He was the fourth Western hostage killed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) whose killing was publicised in a beheading video.

Henning was captured during ISIL's occupation of the Syrian city of Al-Dana in December 2013. He was there helping provide humanitarian relief.[3] The British Foreign Office withheld news of Henning's capture while it attempted to negotiate his release.

Local colleagues warned Henning not to cross the border into Syria, but he said he wanted to make sure the supplies were delivered safely.[4][5]

When he was captured, Henning was a driver for the organisation Rochdale Aid 4 Syria. Henning was shown at the end of David Cawthorne Haines's execution video, released on 13 September 2014, and was referred to as being the next victim by Mohammed Emwazi, the media described as "Jihadi John" of the ISIL cell described as The Beatles. A video of Henning's beheading was released on 3 October 2014.[2][6] In an al-Qaeda magazine interview, spokesman Adam Gadahn condemned the beheading.[7] After his murder, British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered MI5, MI6, and GCHQ to track and kill or capture the killer.[8][9][10] Emwazi was killed in a drone strike in 2015.

Early life[edit]

Henning was a cab driver in Salford, Greater Manchester, in North West England before he travelled to Syria in December 2013 to be a volunteer aid worker.[11] He lived in Eccles, Greater Manchester.[12] There has also been a fundraising page set up to help his family.[13]

He was married to Barbara Livesey Henning[14] and had two children, Lucy and Adam.[15][16]


In December 2013 Henning was part of a team of volunteers delivering goods and funds to people affected by Syria's civil war. He was abducted on 26 December 2013 by masked gunmen, according to other people in his aid convoy.[17]


A video released on 3 October 2014 shows his apparent beheading;[18] the executioner blames it on the UK for its joining the U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS.[17]

Before he is beheaded,[19] Henning appears on camera, handcuffed behind his back and in a kneeling position, next to a knife-wielding masked man (Jihadi John, of the ISIL cell known as The Beatles). Henning speaks, referencing the British Parliament's decision to participate in a coalition of countries, such as the United States, that have banded together to bomb the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.[2][17]

The end of the video shows American aid worker Peter Kassig, and a threat to his life.[17]


Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the killing as "absolutely appalling" and "completely unforgivable" and vowed to do everything to defeat ISIL. He described Henning as a man of great peace, kindness and gentleness, saying: "He went with many Muslim friends out to do no more than simply help other people. His Muslim friends will be mourning him at this special time of Eid and the whole country is mourning with them."[20]

On 5 October 2014, prayers were said for Henning in churches across Bolton. The Bishop of Bolton Rt Rev Chris Edmondson said: "This is the most horrific, brutal and barbaric act. Leaders of Christian and Muslim faiths have universally condemned this act." Bolton Interfaith Council and Bolton Council of Mosques, who had held a vigil for Henning before news of his death, said they would continue to pray for him.[21] A special service of remembrance was held at Eccles Parish Church, attended by Henning's widow. A memorial fund had been set up, by friend and fellow aid-worker Shameela Islam-Zulfiqar, with the aim of raising £20,000.[22] By 9 October 2014, £30,000 had been raised by the Muslim community and would be used to help support Henning's family.[23] A further memorial service was held on 12 October at the British Muslim Heritage Centre, organised by friends and humanitarian aid colleagues of Henning, attracting over 600 people.[24]

On 7 October, former Guantánamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg said that he had offered to intervene to help secure Henning's release.[25]

The Salafi Muslims of the UK also condemned the murder of Alan Henning noting that ISIS has violated Islam's respect for covenants and that ISIS had also mistreated Henning and the Muslims captured along with him. While a London-based follower of Omar Bakri, Mizanur Rahman (aka Abu Baraa), justified the killing. Mizanur Rahman however was strongly criticised by Salafi Muslims.[26]

On 15 October 2014, Labour MP Barbara Keeley, speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, called for a national honour to recognise Henning's sacrifice, and for support for his widow and children. David Cameron agreed and said he would look carefully at her suggestion.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c "Alan Henning 'killed by Islamic State'". BBC. 4 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  3. ^ Harper, Tom (14 September 2014). "Alan Henning: Second British hostage in an IS beheading video named as 'kind and funny' aid worker". The Independent. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  4. ^ British hostage Alan Henning kidnapped half an hour after crossing Syrian border, By Bill Gardner, Ben Farmer and Gordon Rayner, The Daily Telegraph, 15 September 2014
  5. ^ Charity Commission investigates aid charity over alleged Syrian fighter links, Celina Ribeiro, Civil Society Media Ltd, 4 April 2014
  6. ^ "ISIS Claims To Have Killed British Hostage Alan Henning". The WorldPost. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "British Prime Minister David Cameron orders spy chiefs to hunt down 'Jihadi John'". The Times of India. 5 October 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  9. ^ "British PM David Cameron orders spy chiefs to hunt down 'Jihadi John'". Economic Times. 5 October 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  10. ^ Patrick Sawer, Tim Ross (5 October 2014). "David Cameron pledges to defeat 'ruthless, senseless and barbaric' Isil killers". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 5 October 2014.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Alan Henning 'killed by Islamic State'". BBC News. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  12. ^ Ian Cobain. "Isis video shows murder of British hostage Alan Henning". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Alan Henning RIP". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  14. ^ "Alan Henning's family 'numb with grief'". BBC News. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  15. ^ "Alan Henning: An ordinary man who wanted to help Syrians". BBC News. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  16. ^ "Alan Henning's family 'numb with grief'". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  17. ^ a b c d "ISIS video claims to show beheading of Alan Henning; American threatened". CNN. 4 October 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  18. ^ "British hostage Alan Henning 'killed by Islamic State'". BBC News. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  19. ^ "Isis beheads British aid worker Alan Henning". The Times. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  20. ^ "Alan Henning murder: David Cameron vows to defeat ISIS". The Guardian. 4 October 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  21. ^ "Prayers for murdered aid worker Alan Henning". The Bolton News. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  22. ^ "Alan Henning memorial service held". The Daily Telegraph. 5 October 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  23. ^ Muslim community in Bolton raised £30,000 in memory of British aid worker, The Independent, accessed 11 October 2014.
  24. ^ "Alan Henning memorial service held in Manchester". BBC News.
  25. ^ "Moazzam Begg: I offered to help secure release of Alan Henning". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  26. ^ AbdulHaq al-Ashanti (2014). "The Killing of Alan Henning: Mizanur Rahman Abu Baraa and his Errors in the Covenant of Security and the Definition of a Combatant in the Sharee'ah" (pdf).
  27. ^ "Cameron on Alan Henning: 'We have lost a local hero'". BBC News.

External links[edit]