U.K. Captive's Wife Appeals to Islamic State for Mercy

Jihadists have threatened to kill Alan Henning, who was captured in Syria last December while driving an aid ambulance.

Reuters

The wife of a British aid worker held hostage by the Islamic State group has issued a statement pleading for the militants to release him and respond to her messages "before it is too late."

The Islamic State group, which has released online videos showing the beheading of two American journalists and another British aid worker, has threatened to kill former taxi driver Alan Henning next.

Henning, 47, was kidnapped in December in Syria, shortly after crossing into the country from Turkey in an aid convoy.

His wife, Barbara, implored the militants to "see it in their hearts" to release him in a statement released by Britain's Foreign Office late Saturday.

"Alan is a peaceful, selfless man who left his family and his job as a taxi driver in the U.K. to drive in a convoy all the way to Syria with his Muslim colleagues and friends to help those most in need," she wrote.

"His purpose for being there was no more and no less. This was an act of sheer compassion," she said.

The aid worker was driving an ambulance loaded with food and water at the time of the kidnapping, Barbara Henning said. She added that the militants have not responded to her repeated attempts to make contact.

Her appeal came after more than 100 Muslim leaders in Britain signed a statement expressing their "horror and revulsion" at the murder of three other hostages and urging the Islamic State group to release Henning.

One of those who signed the statement was Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi, who was released by Jordan in June after serving a five-year sentence on terror charges. In a statement posted on his website, Maqdisi said that non-Muslims who aid needy Muslims should be protected.

Also known as Essam al-Barqawi, al-Maqdisi was the mentor of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006.

Al-Maqdisi said Henning worked with a charitable organization led by Muslims which sent several aid convoys to help the Syrian people. "Is it reasonable that his reward is being kidnapped and slaughtered? ... He should be rewarded with thanks."