As the former leader of Daesh, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was responsible for countless despicable acts and destroying thousands of people’s lives.
His evil and cowardly beliefs and actions lacked any humanity and caused the deaths of innocent people including my brother David Haines, thousands of Muslims throughout Syria and Iraq, and people from all backgrounds and faiths across the world.
He even took three of his own children to their certain death when he dragged them with him into a closed tunnel in his final moments.
The death of al-Baghdadi is an important moment. However, the poisonous ideology of Daesh – also known as Isis – has not died with him.
In his final months, al-Baghdadi had become a marginalised figure in the terrorist group and although his death is significant, it is some ways only symbolic.
Daesh remain active and will continue to use a twisted and false version of Islam in order to groom people into their hateful cause. We must therefore continue to work together to identify and stamp out this threat.
Making the world safer
The UK is working with international partners but there is more to do to support the brave people who stand up to Daesh – including those in Syria where many civilians have faced the full brunt of Daesh’s evil path of destruction.
Al-Baghdadi’s death is one key chapter in the downfall of Daesh but the story is not over. Its reach extends across the world through affiliated groups in multiple countries and into people’s bedrooms through their use of the internet.
And that means we all have a role to play in standing up to the threat and making our world a safer place to live in.
I created Global Acts of Unity to honour my brother David, a humanitarian aid worker, who was held prisoner for 18 months before being executed by Daesh in September 2014.
Through speaking to young people in schools and at community events, we are spreading a message of unity, tolerance, and understanding – values which fly in the face of Daesh’s hateful and divisive beliefs.
The devastating loss of my brother at the hands of Daesh had a life-changing impact on my family. I miss him every day. It has not been an easy path to take, to defy Daesh’s aims and channel that pain into a powerful, positive force for good.
Open our hearts
But, by working with different faiths and communities, it has been the right one, which is why I challenge everyone to reach out to a new community they do not understand, or haven’t engaged with before, or possibly even fear.
If we can open our hearts and minds and extend the hand of friendship to those different from ourselves then we can fight the discord the terrorists seek to sow.
If we can do this, then our communities grow closer and our barriers against intolerance and hate grow stronger.
And if we can do this, then we will win, and together truly end the story of Daesh once and for all.
Mike Haines OBE is the founder of Global Acts of Unity and brother of David Haines, the humanitarian worker executed by Daesh in 2014. To find out more about Global Acts of Unity and request a visit from Mike to your school, community centre or place of worship, please visit: mikehaines.globalactsofunity.com.