David Haines (David Cawthorne Haines)

David Haines

David Haines was born in East Yorkshire, moving to Perth, Scotland, as a child and prior to his capture resided in Sisak, Croatia, as a father of two. Haines had been an aircraft engineer in the Royal Air Force before turning to work in humanitarian aid in 1999. He helped victims of conflict in the Former Yugoslavia, Africa and the Middle East. In 2012, he was an unarmed security worker for Nonviolent Peaceforce, a civilian peacekeeping group in South Sudan. Haines was abducted in March 2013 by an unidentified armed gang while working in a Syrian internally displaced persons (IDP) camp run by the aid group Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED). He was kidnapped near the Atmeh refugee camp near the Turkish border and the Syrian province of Idlib. He was seized along with an Italian aid worker named Federico Motka. Their Syrian translator and driver were not taken. The translator later said that insurgents shot out the tires and surrounded their vehicle on a country road. David Haines’ family were ordered by UK Foreign Office not to speak to anybody about the abduction, an instruction that continued even after the abduction became public when Haines appeared in the purported Sotloff execution video that threatened Haines would be the next victim. The UK Foreign Office had also requested the British media to not publish Haines’ identity, fearing for his safety. When international press published his name after release of the video, UK media decided to also publish it, with The Independent stating that “no purpose is served by continuing to withhold his name”.

After the surfacing of the Steven Sotloff execution video, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond revealed that the aid worker was one of the intended targets of the American rescue mission. The mission failed reportedly because the jihadist group had moved the hostages prior to the arrival of American commandos. Few details about a second rescue attempt were revealed. The abduction of the aid worker came to worldwide attention after being shown at the end of the Steven Sotloff execution video. The video was discovered on 2 September 2014 by SITE Intelligence Group, purportedly ahead of its intended release by Al-Furqan Media Productions. The individual was shown with Jihadi John and was declared to be the next possible victim of the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS). At the end of the Steven Sotloff beheading video, Jihadi John is shown holding a named British humanitarian aid worker by his orange jumpsuit saying “We take this opportunity to warn those governments that enter this evil alliance of America against ISIL to back off and leave our people alone.”

The day after the Steven Sotloff execution video surfaced, British prime minister David Cameron told the House of Commons: “I am sure the whole House, and the whole country, will join with me in condemning the sickening and brutal murder of another American hostage, and share our shock and anger that it again appears to have been carried out by a British citizen. All our thoughts are with the British hostage and his family. Their ordeal is unimaginable.” He concluded: “A country like ours will not be cowed by these barbaric killers. If they think we will weaken in the face of their threats, they are wrong. It will have the opposite effect. We will be more forthright in the defence of the values, liberty under the rule of law, freedom, democracy that we hold dear.” A video of the lead up and aftermath of Haines’ beheading, entitled “A Message to the Allies of America”, was released by ISIL on 13 September 2014. The video, following a similar format to the ones for Foley and Sotloff, started with a clip of a press statement by Prime Minister Cameron followed by a title screen. It then showed David Haines delivering a prepared speech. Next, the executioner makes a statement, then puts his knife to David Haines throat and makes cutting motions as the video fades to black. In the final scene, the executioner is holding the orange jumpsuit of another person, named as British aid worker Alan Henning, saying “If you, Cameron, insist on fighting the Islamic State then you, like your master Obama, will have the blood of your people on your hands.”


  • May, 09, 1970
  • United Kingdom
  • East Yorkshire, England


  • September, 13, 2014
  • Syria

Cause of Death

  • decapitation

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