‘Henning murder’s why I’m in Syria’

Published: Friday 5th December 2014 by The News Editor

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A former British soldier who travelled to Syria to fight Islamic State (IS) militants has said he was prompted by the murder of aid volunteer Alan Henning.

Jamie Read hit the headlines last month after it was revealed he had gone to the war-torn country with another ex-British Army soldier James Hughes to join up with a band of foreign fighters aiding the Kurdish Peshmerga.

Taxi driver Mr Henning, 47, was killed by a masked militant known as Jihadi John in a video released online in October following a string of similarly publicised killings.

Mr Read, 24, from Cumbria, told The Sun newspaper he believed IS was “the biggest threat the world faces” and felt compelled to act, even though his family had concerns.

“Killing the aid worker was the final straw,” he said.

“There is no justification for their executions – for putting innocent guys on their knees and doing that.

“My family were nervous and obviously worried about my well-being – we have gone into an unknown world. But I’m a firm believer that if you want to do something you have to do it and not just talk about it.”

And Mr Hughes, 26, from Worcestershire, said: “I wanted to help. The situation in England is getting bad in terms of the support IS get. The world needs to open its eyes to the threat they pose.”

Mr Read had a brief stint in the Second Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s regiment, while Mr Hughes served three tours of Afghanistan, the paper said.

On the other side of the battle lines, official figures suggest more than 500 Britons have travelled to fight for IS in Syria and Iraq.

Meanwhile, IS has posted a series of videos online showing the separate murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, US aid worker Peter Kassig and British aid workers David Haines and Mr Henning.

Footage appearing to show Mr Henning’s murder appeared on the internet just days after the UK joined US-led air strikes against the terrorists in Iraq.

Security services have also been attempting to uncover the identity of Jihadi John, who appears to speak with a British accent.

The Home Office has warned against travelling to Syria and said anyone who did so was putting themselves in “considerable danger”.

A spokeswoman said at the time: “The best way to help the people of these countries is to donate to registered charities that have ongoing relief operations, not by taking part in a conflict overseas, which can be an offence under both criminal and terror laws.

“People who commit, plan and support acts of terror abroad and seek to return to the UK will be prosecuted by the UK authorities. Whether a prosecution for an offence is justified in an individual case is a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service to decide after a full police investigation.”

Last month the Government announced a number of new anti-terror measures designed to combat the risk of IS radicals returning to Britain, including blocking suspected fighters entry to the UK.

Published: Friday 5th December 2014 by The News Editor

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