Watch CBS News

UN Security Council Condemns Alleged ISIS Beheading Of British Aid Worker Alan Henning

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The United Nations Security Council late Friday sharply condemned a new video that purports to show an Islamic State group fighter beheading British hostage Alan Henning, calling the killing a ``heinous and cowardly murder.''

The video released Friday purportedly shows a fighter from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, beheading Henning and threatening another American captive. It was the fourth such killing carried out by the extremist group now targeted in U.S.-led airstrikes, CBS News reported.

The UN statement said the video ``once again demonstrates the brutality'' of the Islamic State group. It stressed that council members believe that ``such continued acts of barbarism perpetrated by ISIL do not intimidate them, but rather stiffen their resolve'' that countries, especially in the affected region of Syria and Iraq, must come together to counter such terrorist groups.

The statement also demanded the immediate, safe and unconditional release of all held hostage by the Islamic State group, the Nusra front and other groups and individuals associated with al-Qaida.

The current president of the council, Argentine Ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval, read the statement to reporters. She did not say whether the United Nations had verified the video and did not answer questions.

``What a world,'' she said before reading the council's statement.

The council's rapid response to the video, within a few hours of its release, reflected the international community's growing alarm at the recent series of beheadings and a special concern over the death of a humanitarian aid worker.

``This crime is a tragic reminder of the increasing dangers volunteer humanitarian personnel face every day in Syria,'' the statement said.

It also stressed that the Islamic State group ``must be defeated and that the intolerance, violence and hatred it espouses must be stamped out.''

As CBS 2's Jessica Schneider reported, Henning traveled to Syria to work with a Muslim charity, delivering aid to refugees. But he was kidnapped by ISIS as he crossed the border between Turkey and Syria on Dec. 26 of last year.

ISIS released the video of his beheading just days after the British began air strikes.

"His blood is on the hands of the British Parliament," the masked militant said.

Henning drove a taxi in England, and was the father of two daughters. His wife had made a public plea to ISIS.

"We are at a loss why those leading Islamic State cannot open their hearts and minds to the truth about Alan's humanitarian motives for going to Syria," Barbara Henning said.

Following the beheading, President Barack Obama issued the following statement Friday:

"The United States strongly condemns the brutal murder of United Kingdom citizen Alan Henning by the terrorist group ISIL. Mr. Henning worked to help improve the lives of the Syrian people and his death is a great loss for them, for his family and the people of the United Kingdom. Standing together with our UK friends and allies, we will work to bring the perpetrators of Alan's murder - as well as the murders of Jim Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines - to justice. Standing together with a broad coalition of allies and partners, we will continue taking decisive action to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL."

Added Lisa Monaco, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, "If it in fact proves to be authentic, it is yet another demonstration of the brutality of ISIL, and 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."

ISIS has already beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines.

The terror group is now threatening to kill 26-year-old American aid worker Peter Kassig. He set up his own aid organization before his capture, delivering food, clothing and medical supplies to Syria.

Last week, FBI Director James Comey said the U.S. believes it has identified the masked man in the ISIS beheading videos, CBS News reported.

In an interview scheduled to air Sunday on 60 Minutes, Comey told Scott Pelley about the effort to track down the killer.

"Well, it's not work I really want to talk about -- on a lot of dimensions," Comey said. "Using our intelligence tools, our military tools, obviously our relationships with our partners, especially our great partners in the British services. We are workin' pretty hard, not just to identify and find that savage, but all of them."

Comey refused to disclose the man's name or describe the tactics being used to apprehend him, CBS News reported.

"I want to see our country and our -- and our allies bring justice to him," Comey said. "Whether that means capturing him or killing him, I don't know at this point." Comey appeared to indicate that he would be satisfied with either outcome, CBS News reported.

You Might Also Be Interested In:

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.