David Haines was beheaded by ISIS in a newly released video, a violent end to a life that had been spent trying to promote peace and help those hurt by wars.
Unlike the first two murdered Westerners, who were journalists working in the region, Haines was a humanitarian worker who devoted his life to trying to help war-torn countries in the Muslim world. A native of Britain, Haines was working for a French aid organization in Syria last year when he was kidnapped.
David Haines worked with ACTED to coordinate delivery of clean water, food and tents in a region near Syria’s border with Turkey. He was staying with other aid workers near a town called Atmeh when he and an Italian colleague, Federico Motka, were kidnapped last year.
The 44-year-old Haines had a daughter, Bethany, with his high school sweetheart. He also had a four-year-old daughter from a second marriage. Family members say Haines only wanted to do good in the world, recently serving in a UN mission in the Balkans. He had also worked in Croatia for five years between 1999 and 2004 and was the head of Handicap International during its work in war-torn Libya. Haines “helped whoever needed help, regardless of race, creed or religion,” family members said.
In a statement after ISIS released the beheading video of David Haines, ACTED said it was “deeply shocked” by the murder.
“David has been working as a humanitarian since 1999, helping victims of conflict in the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East. When he was taken hostage in March 2013, David was in Syria as part of ACTED’s humanitarian effort in support of tens of thousands of people affected by the crisis,” the organization said. “A man’s life should never be threatened on account of his humanitarian commitment.”
The nearly two minute video clip of David Haines’ beheading contained a message to the UK, blaming British Prime Minister David Cameron for joining forces with the United States.
“You entered voluntarily into a coalition with the United States against the Islamic State, just as your predecessor Tony Blair did, following a trend amongst our British prime ministers who can’t find the courage to say no to the Americans,” said the masked executioner.
World leaders are also decrying the beheading of David Haines, with Cameron calling it an “act of pure evil.”