The wife of the Manchester taxi driver held hostage by Islamic State militants has begged the group to spare his life and allow him to return to his family.
In an emotional televised appeal, Barbara Henning, whose husband Alan has been held in Syria for nine months, said she could not understand why the group could not acknowledge the truth about his reasons for travelling to the country.
“We are at a loss why those leading Islamic State cannot open their hearts and minds to the truth about Alan’s humanitarian motives for going to Syria and why they continue to ignore the verdict of their own justice system.
“Surely those who wish to be seen as a state will act in a statesman-like way by showing mercy and providing clemency. I ask again, supported by the voices across the world, for Islamic State to spare Alan’s life. I ask Islamic State please release him, we need him back home.”
She added that after receiving an audio file of her husband, begging for his life, contact with the group had been broken. She added that she wanted both her husband and Islamic State to know that he had not been abandoned by his family: “Alan, we miss you, and we’re dreadfully concerned for your safety.”
Henning, 47, a father of two teenage children from Eccles, Greater Manchester, was kidnapped last Boxing Day, on a return aid trip to Syria, with a group of his Muslim friends. They were taking ambulances and medical equipment to refugees in the country.
His plight went unreported at the request of the UK Foreign Office, until he appeared in a video made by the group, which also depicted the murder of Scottish aid worker David Haines.
Speaking about the circumstances in which her husband was abducted, Henning said: “Some say wrong time, wrong place.” But this was not correct, she said.
“Alan was volunteering with his Muslim friend to help the people of Syria. He was in the right place doing the right thing.”
Meanwhile, a former Islamic State hostage has said he believes that the direct pleas being made by Henning’s family are a good policy.
Bunyamin Aygun, 43, an award-winning Turkish photographer, said he had been threatened with execution, regularly moved between squalid cells, and was repeatedly questioned over whether he was a spy.
He also said that one of his captors may have been British. “A guy of about 20 years old was speaking English; not Arabic or Turkish,” he said in a television interview. “He wasn’t wearing a mask. His English was like British English. And he was white.”