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Murdered aid worker David Haines 'did not want ransom paid'

Published 18/08/2015

David Haines was murdered by terrorists in Syria
David Haines was murdered by terrorists in Syria

A British humanitarian worker murdered by Islamic State terrorists did not want the Government to pay a ransom for his release - even if the other likely option was death, his brother has said.

David Haines was killed in September last year, 18 months after he was captured while on his maiden mission bringing aid to Syrians caught up in the conflict.

His family were unable to speak publicly about the kidnap through fear he would be killed. The former RAF engineer's name was eventually made public when he appeared in the background of a video showing the execution of Steven Sotloff, an American journalist also seized by terrorists.

Mr Haines's brother Mike said "the writing was on the wall" when David, from Perth, was shown in that video - brutal footage he has refused to watch, although he remains "haunted" by still images taken from it.

In an interview with the Press Association marking World Humanitarian Day tomorrow, and the one-year anniversary of the death of American journalist James Foley at the hands of Syrian terrorists, Mike Haines recalled his brother's unwavering support of Government policy not to negotiate with terrorists.

He also warned humanitarians about following in his brother's footsteps by heading to Syria.

He said: "David h ad always said that even if the Government was okay with paying ransoms, if a single pound was paid for his release he would have nothing to do with it.

"We looked at every possible option, there was nothing we discounted. But putting money into the hands of terrorists only breeds more. It would make more British humanitarian workers targets.

"David would have felt very, very torn - b eing able to be free to see his daughters and wife again. But he would have been very unhappy that a ransom had been paid."

The family's private hopes of seeing the former RAF engineer alive sank when footage surfaced of Mr Sotloff's execution.

Mr Haines, four years older than his brother, said : "My family's mantra had always been to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

"We knew there was not a good chance of David coming home. We knew the writing was on the wall."

Media coverage only added to the family's grief, he said.

Mr Haines added: "Everywhere you went the images of David's face... those images in the deep, dark night when I can't sleep, they haunt me.

"But that wasn't 'David'. It was very difficult, in fact impossible, to avoid seeing those images. I have not seen the video and won't any time soon."

Mr Haines broke down as he recalled the Foreign Office phone call, some two weeks later, confirming the family's worst fears.

" My gut reaction was that I wanted to run away," he said.

"I didn't want to have to tell my family that their son, uncle, dad, husband had passed away."

Mr Haines, also a former RAF engineer, now devotes his time to visiting schools, religious organisations and community groups in an attempt to dissuade young people from being indoctrinated by terrorists online .

It includes the Fightback Starts Here campaign which was launched this summer with the backing of more than 100 charities, inter-faith organisations and community leaders.

Mr Haines said: " It is not an Islamic question, it is multi-faith and multicultural.

"We all want to live in peace, we want to bring our children up in peace and have the freedom to practice our religion. If we let terrorist groups from whatever spectrum have their way that will not happen."

And he warned aid workers against travelling to Syria.

He said: "These humanitarian workers are our true modern-day heroes.

"However, going to a place like Syria, which is probably the most dangerous country in the world at the moment - there are very few people who have the skills and knowledge to operate effectively.

"There is far, far more they can do in this country to support the organisations and people that are working there."

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