The Prime Minister has vowed to ‘hunt down’ Isil terrorists after the dad of a Hampshire hostage pleaded for his return just as video emerged of another British man being beheaded.
Journalist John Cantlie’s father Paul, who lives in Droxford, spoke of his family’s ‘despair and helplessness’ after seeing him on a video released on the internet.
Delivering his appeal from a hospital bed, he said: ‘To those holding John, please know that he is a good man.
‘He sought only to help the Syrian people and I ask you from all that is sacred to help us to allow him to return safely to those he loves and those who love him.’
Even as Mr Cantlie’s plea was broadcast, a video emerged showing the brutal murder of Alan Henning, the 47-year-old former taxi driver from Salford who was kidnapped last December in Syria.
Speaking with the help of a voice aid, Mr Cantlie said the family experienced ‘great relief’ when they saw John in a televised broadcast but this feeling turned to ‘despair’.
Referring to the moment he saw John in the clip, Mr Cantlie said: ‘For the first time in almost two years, we saw John when he made a televised broadcast during which he told viewers that he was still a prisoner of the Islamic State and that maybe he will live and maybe he will die.
‘As a family we experienced great relief seeing and hearing John and knowing that he is alive, but this was followed by the feeling of despair and helplessness.’
Hostage Mr Cantlie, who has worked for newspapers including the Sunday Times, was seized in northern Syria, where he had been working as an independent photo journalist.
Speaking about his son, Mr Cantlie said: ‘John felt a strong need to help in the best way that he could.
‘As an impartial and respected journalist he knew that he could make a difference.’
He spoke about the pride he has for his son.
‘I want John to know how very proud I am of him. I can think of no greater joy than seeing him again, released and allowed to return to those who love him,’ he said.
Mr Cantlie said he and his family are trying to communicate with the Islamic state to deliver an “important message regarding John” and said they can only hope that it has been received but they have had no response.
Addressing his son’s captors, he said: “To those holding John: please know that he is a good man, he sought only to help the Syrian people and I ask you from all that is sacred, to help us and allow him to return home safely to those he loves and those who love him.”
Hostage Mr Cantlie appeared to feature in a propaganda video released by extremists.
The clip, which lasts for five-and-a-half minutes, shows Mr Cantlie sitting at a desk dressed in the now-familiar orange outfit worn by other IS hostages.
The video is introduced with the title Lend Me Your Ears and Messages From The British Detainee John Cantlie before the Briton appears on screen.
Mr Cantlie, who looks calm and appears to be reciting a prepared script, describes himself as a ‘’long-term prisoner’’ and goes on to criticise US president Barack Obama’s strategy of attempting to defeat IS fighters using air strikes.
Paul Cantlie suffers from laryngeal cancer, according to an NHS website.
The illness is an uncommon type of cancer that develops inside the tissue of the larynx (voicebox).
Last night, David Cameron vowed to “hunt down” the terrorists responsible for the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning, as the killing prompted horror and condemnation around the world.
A video showing the brutal murder of of Mr Henning was posted on the internet by the group on Friday night.
The Prime Minister said the killing “ shows just how barbaric and repulsive these terrorists are”, and promised to “do all we can to hunt down these murderers and bring them to justice”.
French president Francois Hollande spoke of his “outrage” at the killing, US president Barack Obama condemned the “brutal murder”, and the United Nations Security Council described it as “heinous and cowardly”.
The footage shows Mr Henning kneeling beside a knifeman dressed in black in a desert setting.
It is the second such murder of a UK hostage after fellow aid worker David Haines was killed last month.
Two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, were also beheaded by the terrorist organisation, which is also known as Isil.
The Prime Minister, who last night arrived back in the UK after visiting British troops including those engaged in air strikes on IS in Iraq, said: “The brutal murder of Alan Henning by Isil shows just how barbaric and repulsive these terrorists are.
“My thoughts and prayers (tonight) are with Alan’s wife Barbara, their children and all those who loved him.
“Alan had gone to Syria to help get aid to people of all faiths in their hour of need. The fact that he was taken hostage when trying to help others and now murdered demonstrates that there are no limits to the depravity of these Isil terrorists.
“We will do all we can to hunt down these murderers and bring them to justice.”
The gruesome video appears to show Mr Henning, who is dressed in orange, say: “I am Alan Henning. Because of our Parliament’s decision to attack the Islamic State, I, as a member of the British public, will now pay the price for that decision.”
The killer, who speaks with a British accent and is believed to be the man responsible for the previous beheadings, then makes a direct statement to the Prime Minister: “The blood of David Haines was on your hands, Cameron. Alan Henning will also be slaughtered, but his blood is on the hands of the British Parliament.”
The video then apparently shows the jihadist alongside an American hostage identified as Peter Kassig.
Addressing the US president, the militant says: “Obama, you have started your aerial bombardment in Sham (Syria), which keeps on striking our people. So it is only right that we continue to strike the necks of your people.”
Washington said the killing of Mr Henning “is again yet another just very clear example of the brutality of this group, and why the president has articulated and is moving out in a comprehensive way to degrade and destroy Isil”.
Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counter-terrorism, said: “Our hearts go out to the British aid worker who we believe is in that video and to the remaining hostages and to their families.”
The Foreign Office said it was offering the Henning family “every support possible”.
The latest video emerged a week after the House of Commons overwhelmingly backed the deployment of British military forces to bomb IS positions in Iraq.
With Labour support, MPs voted by a majority of 481 to endorse joining the US-led coalition confronting the extremists - although extending the mission into Syria is yet to be debated.
RAF jets began bombing missions at the weekend and Mr Cameron earlier announced the deployment of two more Tornado fighter bombers as he visited the Cyprus base from where they are operating.
The two additional GR4s lift the number to eight engaged in raids to support local ground forces, especially Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
Mr Henning was last seen at the end of a video released last month following the beheading of fellow British captive Mr Haines.
His wife Barbara earlier this week pleaded for him to be freed.
“I ask Islamic State: please release him, we need him back home,” she said.
“Some say wrong time, wrong place. Alan was volunteering with his Muslim friends to help the people of Syria. He was in the right place doing the right thing.”
Mrs Henning revealed she had received an audio message of her husband pleading for his life, and had been told that a Sharia court had found him innocent of being a spy.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg offered his “sincere condolences” to Mr Henning’s family, saying: “We are resolved to defeat this evil.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband called the murder “appalling and barbaric”, adding: “We will do everything we can to support the efforts of the Government to bring those guilty of this terrible act to justice.”
In a statement, Mr Kassig’s parents Ed and Paula said: “The Kassig family extends our concern for the family of Alan Henning. We have read about his work and his generous character with great respect and admiration.
“We ask everyone around the world to pray for the Henning family, for our son, and for the release of all innocent people being held hostage in the Middle East and around the globe.”
The United Nations Security Council said: “ This crime is a tragic reminder of the increasing dangers volunteer humanitarian personnel face every day in Syria.
“It also once again demonstrates the brutality of ISIL, which is responsible for thousands of abuses against the Syrian and Iraqi people.”