Slain UK hostage’s family: Remember David Haines for trying to help victims in war zones

WATCH: UK Prime Minister David Cameron called slain British aid worker David Haines “a hero” and vowed to hunt down his killers and bring them to justice

LONDON – British aid worker David Haines devoted his life to helping civilians in war zones and that is how he should be remembered, his family said Sunday as they grieved his death at the hands of Islamic State militants in Syria.

Haines – the third Westerner beheaded in recent weeks by the Islamic State group – had entered humanitarian work with enthusiasm, his brother Mike Haines said in a statement.

“He helped whoever needed help, regardless of race, creed or religion,” he said of his brother.

Haines was kidnapped in Syria in March last year when he was working for the French aid group Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, or ACTED, to help victims of the fighting there.

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READ MORE: Video posted online purports to show beheading of British aid worker by Islamic State group

He had also worked for groups such as Handicap International, which helps the disabled during conflicts, and Nonviolent Peaceforce, which sends unarmed peacekeepers into conflict zones. He had previously been in Libya during its civil war and South Sudan.

Mike Haines said he had also worked for the United Nations in the Balkans “helping people in real need.”

The leader of Bosnia’s Islamic Community, Husein Kavazovic, called on fellow Muslims Sunday to “show resolve to stop the murderers.” He said Haines’ family can be proud of his legacy.

The beheading of Haines – and the Islamic State’s explicit threat against another British hostage – has prompted increased calls for Britain to take part in air strikes against the militants, who have seized large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq.

Prime Minister David Cameron Sunday summoned military and security chiefs for an emergency meeting to plan Britain’s response.

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it saw no reason to doubt the authenticity of the video, which followed two other videos that showed the beheadings of two U.S. journalists.

Islamic State extremists had threatened Haines’ life in an earlier video released nearly two weeks ago.

The masked man shown on the latest video, which ends with footage of Haines’ body, seems similar to the man in the earlier beheading videos. The tall man speaks with a similar British accent and – as in the two earlier videos – threatens the captive with a large knife
brandished in his left hand.

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The video shows Cameron condemning the Islamic State group. The man with the knife then condemns Britain’s support of American action against the group and says the captive must pay with his life.

The 44-year-old aid worker’s family had issued a plea to his captors the day before the latest beheading video was released. They urged the hostage-takers to contact them. The family said IS had ignored earlier attempts to open communications.

British officials had said they were doing everything possible to protect Haines. An earlier rescue bid led by U.S. forces had failed, however, and it is not clear Western agencies know the precise location of the hostage-takers.

Mike Haines said his brother had joined the military as an aircraft engineer with the Royal Air Force after attending school and working for the Royal Mail.

He later got involved in humanitarian work and was “most alive and enthusiastic” when involved with such missions, Mike Haines said.

“His joy and anticipation for the work he went to do in Syria is for myself and family the most important element of this whole sad affair,” Mike Haines said. “He was and is loved by all his family and will be missed terribly.”

Haines had a teenage daughter in Scotland from a previous marriage and a four-year-old daughter in Croatia with his current wife, Dragana, who did not comment Sunday morning on the news of the killing.

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British officials kept news of Haines’ abduction out of the public eye for security reasons until IS showed him in a video nearly two weeks ago.

President Barack Obama said after the killing that the United States would stand with Britain in an expanded effort against the terror group.

“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,” he said.

Germany and France, which is holding an international conference Monday to combat IS, also condemned Haines’ killing.

“The odious assassination of David Haines shows once more the need for the international community to mobilize against the base and cowardly Daesh,” French President Francois Hollande said, using the group’s Arabic acronym.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the Haines killing “an abhorrent act of barbaric violence beyond all limits of human civilization” and said the Paris meeting comes at the right time.

There needs to be “internationally agreed action to effectively stop the flow of fighters and money,” he said.

Some British lawmakers called for Britain to launch air strikes against Islamic State forces after the killing.

Associated Press reporters Lori Hinnant in Paris, Sabina Niksic in Bosnia and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.


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