UK hostage: Taxi driver who just wanted to help

2014-09-15 20:47

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London - A British hostage being threatened by Islamic State militants is a taxi driver from northern England who volunteered to drive a humanitarian aid convoy to Syria for a Muslim charity.

Alan Henning, a 47-year-old father of two teenage children, was shown in the same video released on Saturday that documented the gruesome murder of fellow Briton David Haines.

He was kidnapped in December as he was driving with an unofficial aid convoy to a camp for internally displaced people in Syria.

Henning's family live in Eccles near Manchester. Nicknamed "Gadget" for his love for new technology, he was not a professional aid worker but friends and colleagues said he was touched by the suffering of Syria's civilian population.

He joined a group of Muslim friends who founded the charity "Aid4Syria" and had the name tattooed on his arm, said Catrin Nye from the BBC Asian Network, who met him before his trip.

She described him as a "very likeable" and "funny" man and said he had been "inspired" by friends who had been to Syria.

"Alan is a man who is full of compassion," said Kasim Jameel, a friend and fellow taxi driver from the Manchester area, who also helped organise the convoys, The Times newspaper reported.

The Times and the Daily Telegraph said he was kidnapped on his trips to the war-torn country, although other media said it may only have been the second time he had travelled there.

Jameel said Henning had insisted on taking part in the convoy instead of spending the New Year's holidays with his family.

"I could tell a lot of stories about the good that Alan has done and about how, as a non-Muslim, he has helped Muslims who have suffered in the conflict," he said.

Henning also took an active role in helping to raise the funds to buy the medical equipment and food aid he was bringing over.

'Just wanted to help'

The convoy left Britain on 20 December and they were stopped shortly after crossing over from Turkey, the reports said.

"They put everyone in a room and started to question people. They were speaking English because no one on the convoy spoke Arabic," a friend told The Times on condition of anonymity.

"They were a mixture of Libyans and Algerians and they gave Alan a hard time because he was not a Muslim," he said.

Other men who had been travelling with Henning were released.

Several British papers said he was then taken to Raqqa in northern Syria which Islamic State claims as its capital.

"He just wanted to help. That's it," Martin Shedwick, the owner of Sprint Motors, which helped to service the old ambulances used in the humanitarian convoy, said on Sky News.

The Daily Express quoted Mohamed Elhaddad as the convoy leader.

Elhaddad said Henning had insisted on taking that "extra risk" to go into Syria.

"I remember going on two convoys with him, at the end of 2012 and in May 2013, and he was always very positive and very interested in the work," he was quoted as saying.

"I have met his family and his children. The first time we went together he was very excited and very emotional. He does a lot for others.

"He is good at DIY and he was a useful person to have on the trips."

Nye said she met Henning while he was packing aid convoys in Salford.

"He had travelled on a convoy, he had been into a refugee camp and it had been a life-changing experience," he said.

"He described holding the children... and how that really affected him. He told me he had to go back."

Read more on:    isis  |  syria

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.