Britain stands ready to take “whatever steps are necessary” to help an international push to destroy the “evil” extremist group who murdered British aid worker David Haines, Prime Minister David Cameron said.
In an emotional statement in Downing Street after chairing a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee to discuss the killing, he hailed Mr Haines as a “British hero” and vowed to “hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice no matter how long it takes.”
Islamic State were “not Muslims they are monsters”, he said, and the UK could not afford to ignore the severe threat the jihadists’ spread posed to both world and domestic security.
The Islamic State (IS) released the footage showing the 44-year-old being murdered by a knife-wielding militant, who appears to speak with a British accent. The clip also includes a threat to kill a second British hostage.
Mr Cameron praised the “extraordinary courage” shown by the Haines family during the long and ultimately unsuccessful efforts to secure the release of the hostage, whose “selflessness, his decency, his burning desire to help others has today cost him his life.
“The whole country, like his grieving family, can be incredibly proud of what he did and what he stood for in his humanitarian mission,” he said.
Mr Haines was captured in Syria in March last year. In a statement his brother said the father-of-two had been murdered “in cold blood”.
Mike Haines said he was “just another bloke” who was “most alive and enthusiastic” in his humanitarian roles and will be “missed terribly”.
He said: “His joy and anticipation for the work he went to do in Syria is for myself and family the most important element of this whole sad affair.
“David was a good brother. He was, in the right mood, the life and soul of the party and on other times the most stubborn irritating pain in the ass.”
Mr Haines had a teenage daughter in Scotland from a previous marriage and a four-year-old daughter, Athea, in Croatia with his present wife.
First Minister Alex Salmond is convening a Scottish Government “resilience meeting” to discuss the implications of the “act of unspeakable barbarism”.
It will specifically address concerns over the possibility of a backlash against the Muslim community and how to protect the privacy of the Haines family.
He said he fully backed the UK Government’s “tragically unsuccessful” efforts to secure Mr Haines’ release, including its outright opposition to paying ransoms.
But he criticised the lack of a clear wider international strategy to tackle the threat of IS and insisted any action should only be taken with the approval of the United Nations.
“You can’t have a situation where you bow to terrorism; you can’t have a situation where terrorism influences policy and strategy,” he said.
“There is an urgent requirement to get back under collective action under the United Nations.
“I would urge an urgent consideration to develop a collective response to what is a threat to all humanity.”